Born and bred in Moss Side, Lee Horsley Frost heads up his family-run business, WH Frost (Butchers) with has dad, three brothers (another fled to the world of modelling in London) and passionate loyal team of over twenty staff.
The original shop was opened on Alexandra Road, Moss Side, in 1890 by his great grandfather. Following a compulsory purchase order by Manchester City Council who wanted to redevelop the area, they relocated to Chorlton, the next suburb along, in 1971.
The shop in Chorlton Place is where they supply their specialist, award-winning meat to some of Manchester’s finest shops, pubs and restaurants. The meat is sourced from two main farms in the North West, then traditionally hung and stored, providing the best quality product. Lee likes to go the extra mile and is known for his personal customer service – and the fact that he’s never short of an opinion or two
What got you started in your field of work?
I started going in to my dad’s butchers shop when I was about five years old. I left school at 16 on the Friday and I started working full time at the shop on the Saturday. I didn’t even go back for my exam results. I carried on working and I never really looked back.
Who have been the biggest influences on your work?
My grandad and my father. I owe them a great deal. They taught me a lot about the business, and how to run a good business. My dad’s 72 and he’s still working there.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement is my little boy, Joseph, who is 13. Frosty Junior makes several appearances on my Twitter!
What does your typical day involve?
I’m up at 3.30am every morning. Off to the markets and abattoirs then back to the shop where I prepare all the orders, load the vans and go through the jobs with my drivers. I travel to meetings a lot, I might try and grab a sandwich on the way, meeting clients, meeting new clients, sometimes meeting chefs and helping with their menu development. I work till about 6 o’clock.
And how do you relax on your days off?
I work six days a week. I have Sundays off. I like shooting. Walking. Time with friends and family. I like dining out, blagging a few meals off some of the customers I supply!
What is the best advice you have been given or can give?
Grandad said ‘always look after your customers.’ He had a saying ‘service today means sales tomorrow.’ All my customers have my mobile. They can phone me anytime, over the weekend, holidays. I don’t like letting anyone down and will always bend over backwards to make sure they are properly looked after.
If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?
People have asked me this before – what would you have done if you weren’t a butcher? – and I honestly can’t answer that. I’ve always loved doing what my dad has always done. Maybe farming. I’m quite a good cook. I might have become a chef, I don’t know. I’m a butcher!
Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear!
I once dated a vegetarian for two years. That was difficult!
Red or Blue?
Probably more red, although I’m not a massive football fan. I have got a couple of United footballers who are clients though, so I’ve got to say Red!
Name your three favourite places in Manchester
Central Library, it’s peaceful and quiet. Alexandra Park in Moss Side, growing up I spent a lot of time there with my brothers. Some happy memories but I got mugged there once though. What used to be The French restaurant in The Midland because my grandad used to take us there when he supplied meat to them in the seventies and eighties. The ambience, the staff, a classic French restaurant. It was fine dining with a Michelin star. It ain’t got a Michelin star now.
If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?
The parking. Get rid of parking charges in the city. It should be free parking, shouldn’t it? The parking charges are a rip off. Get more people into Manchester. They wonder why The Trafford Centre’s packed.
And what do you love most about Manchester?
The people, their attitude, their way of life, their work ethic, and they’re friendly. People spot you walking down the street, ‘you alright, Lee?’ You won’t get that in London. Manchester people are a different breed.
Listen to Lee talk some more every Friday at 6pm on Virgin Radio UK with Tim Cocker.