By Rosalind Rathouse, Founder and Principal, Cookery School at Little Portland Street
Here at Cookery School, at Little Portland Street we try our hardest to be as sustainable as possible. Part of being sustainable is being open and honest (treating people fairly is one of the key areas of sustainability outlined by the SRA), so we wanted to let people know that we have had to put our prices up by around 10% from Monday 16th January and explain why.
Transparency and sharing are important elements for engendering trust. Being ‘straight’ with our customers on all fronts is a basic premise on which we operate. It is for that very reason that we felt impelled to explain why we have had to put our prices up. We use the best (and very often the most expensive) ingredients, many of which are organic and are costly eg Brindisa olive oil, Original Beans and Amadei chocolate, Fairtrade products, organic meat and line-caught local fish. We never compromise on this, no matter how much it costs.
Every year in January many of our suppliers put their prices up, yet we haven’t followed suit and increased our prices since 2014, deciding instead to simply absorb the cost ourselves. With the UK being an island, there are many ingredients that we do need to import – oranges, lemons and olive oil are ingredients that we really couldn’t live without! And, in addition to standard supplier price increases, Brexit is already affecting the cost of ingredients imported from Europe.
We also use a very high staff to pupil ratio, as we feel that in huge classes, learning cannot be of the calibre that we expect unless this happens. However, there is only a certain level of pricing that the market can stand so we always stake our prices as fairly as we can and absorb rising costs ourselves. We are now at a point where, with rising cost of food prices and the Brexit effect, we cannot withstand this and need to pass it on to our customers. We are sure that most of them understand the generosity and value that they receive at Cookery School so hope that this will not impact negatively on us. We felt that the best way to deal with this situation was to share it with our customers and try to explain our reasons for having to raise our prices. We hope that they will understand and still support us in the numbers that they have. In the past year we have had a 52% increase in classes, as we have put on more and added new ones, so we hope that our message of sustainability in all senses of the word is filtering through.