Meet the Member: New look, traditional values for JB

We caught up with a family-run foodservice wholesaler as it leaves behind its old image and embraces a bright new future

Established in Edinburgh in 1963, JB Foodservice has spent six decades establishing a strong reputation supplying independent gastropubs, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, schools and fast food outlets across Scotland and the north of England.

Started by Jack and Christine Brown supplying cooked chickens to fast food outlets, the Caterforce member evolved over time, continually adapting its offer to suit the changing demands of customers. And now, 60 years later, the business is virtually unrecognisable from those cooked chicken beginnings.

With an extensive range of more than 4,000 products across chilled, frozen, grocery, speciality ingredients, cleaning and hygiene products, crockery and disposables, the business provides everything its out-of-home customers need, and more.

The jewel in the JB crown, however, is its craft butchery. Specialising in Scotch and UK assured beef with full traceability, the range also includes lamb, pork, game and locally made sausages and burgers. Provenance and local heritage is a top priority and the butchery only works with meat that comes from farms with the highest standards of animal husbandry, with strict criteria for age, weight and conformation.

Based in a purpose-built butchery facility, the craft butcher team has decades of experience and advise customers on flavour, texture, cuts, colour and marbling – even maturing to customer specification in the dedicated dry-aged room. Keen to cultivate a culture of learning and growth, there is even a butchery apprenticeship programme.


“While the business has evolved dramatically, with a much broader range and diverse customer base, it is still very much a family business,” says Charlotte Brown, Commercial Director (pictured below). Charlotte is Jack and Christine’s daughter in law, and son Lee has been managing director since 1990, while Jack remains Chairman.

“It won’t surprise you to know that as a family, we are all passionate about food which means we’re on the same page for the business, but it can be tricky when it comes to cooking meals,” she laughs.

It is this passion about food that has shaped the direction of the business, in particular the focus on the craft butchery.

“Our commitment to providing the best products has really paid off, our customers know that they can rely on us to have what they want and they trust that it will be of the high standard they expect,” she says.

“Nothing embodies that more than our craft butchery, which is why, when it came to rebranding the business to better reflect who we are and what we do, we wanted to place that front and central.”

Recognising that JB Foodservice no longer accurately represented their offer to customers, the team gave careful consideration to a new identity before deciding upon JB Craft Butchers and Chefs Provisioners. This, the Brown family all agree, reflects their commitment to sourcing top-quality ingredients and the legacy of the business.

“We all felt it was really important that our branding not only tells the story of our heritage, but also our offer for customers right now and in the future,” Charlotte says.

As a business that was founded on strong customer relationships, everything continues to be focused on adding value for customers.

“We’ve always been a customer-centric business and this won’t change,” says Lee Brown, MD (pictured below). “When my dad first began the business, it was built around his customers needs, both in terms of products and service. This continues now, and as a family-run business, we are agile and flexible, and can move quickly, which really does set us apart from some of the larger organisations.”

It’s an approach that is paying off. From its humble beginnings, JB Craft Butchers and Chefs Provisioners is now turning over £23m, with 1,300 independent foodservice customers.

While its roots are in fast food, this is now just a tiny percentage of its customer mix. Restaurants, cafes and hotels now make up the majority, with pubs and independent schools taking a smaller slice of the pie.

Keen to maximise opportunities and keep the business diverse, the team will also continue to service more than 900 independent retail and convenience stores with frozen food and impulse ice cream under their JB Retail brand.

“We learnt the value of a diverse customer mix during the pandemic as it kept our wheels turning when foodservice was challenged, ” says Lee. “We will continue to service this sector and expect it will account for around 15% of turnover.”



The rebrand was launched internally at first, with the close-knit workforce of 100 staff all fully behind the business’s new look.

“The response to the new branding has been incredible,” says Charlotte. “We couldn’t have asked for better support from the team – it’s a great way to give us all a boost as we plan for the future and the new branding really helps us to communicate our vision for the business.”

While the company values remain the same – quality, Scottish provenance, service, transparency, honesty, relationships and family – it is the business mission that really brings to life its approach for the years ahead.

“Our mission is to ‘cherish point of difference, embrace change and stay relevant’ which I think sums up our approach to business beautifully,” says Charlotte.

Caterforce Charlotte Brown Christine Brown Foodservice Jack Brown JB Craft Butchers & Chefs Provisioners JB Foodservice Lee Brown meet the member