THE owners of beleaguered Keelham Farm Shop have said they did all they could to keep the business going but were unable to attract enough regular footfall to keep it from closing and are now actively looking for a buyer.

The farm shop, situated off the A65/A59 Gargrave roundabout, near Skipton, has closed despite the firm, which took it over, claiming it had a “food is love” ethos and an optimistic future.

The farm shop, latterly known as Keelham Food Hall, shut on Thursday, December 28.

Staff were told the news that morning, according to sources.

An unsigned notice posted on the food hall's Facebook page cited financial reasons and the hope a new buyer could be found, while later that day a notice was placed on the doors of the premises stating it was “temporarily closed until further notice”. 

Companies House names 'active' directors as: Gerard Downes, Alistair Wellock, Josephine Wellock and James Worrall.

The Herald approached the Wellock family for a comment.

They responded with the statement: "It is with real regret that we announce that Keelham Food Hall has taken the difficult step to close.

"Over the last 18 months we have done all we can to try and turn around the business and keep it going, by creating a differentiated local food offering with adjacent services and experiences for customers, rebranding our store, as well as taking action to simplify our supply chain. 

"Despite these efforts, a combination of factors including cost of living pressures, food inflation and higher interest rates means we simply have not been able to attract enough regular shoppers to cover the ever-increasing fixed overheads of the store and create a viable business moving forward.

"There is active effort being made for the business to be taken over to secure jobs as soon as possible.

"We’d like to thank our customers, partners and suppliers and in particular all of our staff for their hard work over the years."

The news is in contrast to a more optimistic outlook the company presented just over a month ago in November, when Sally Wellock, who was running the store at the time, issued a press release.

It said the family was "called in to help" and had focused on supporting and working with many local and artisan companies.

The shop's office space was turned into a wood-fired pizza restaurant - supplied by its own bakery and providing beers on tap from local breweries - had wellbeing studio for the community, and hosted a social bike ride.

Ms Wellock added in the release: "We try to create as much community as we can. 

“Our ethos is ‘food is love’ from the way it’s grown, to the way it’s cooked and then shared with our loved ones.

"We aim for Keelham to be a place where loved ones can come to meet and enjoy this special food and experience.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor David Noland, whose ward the farm shop is in, said: “We don’t have the full facts about the closure, whether it will be temporary or otherwise.

“This must be a terrible shock though for staff. I hope that they can find similar or better jobs elsewhere, in Skipton.”

Skipton town councillor Brian McDaid, who is also assistant general secretary for the union, AEGIS, said he was happy to offer any advice from his union background to staff at Keelham Food Hall who were losing their jobs.

He can be contacted at:

North Yorkshire councillor Andy Solloway, whose ward adjoins Cllr Noland’s Skipton North & Embsay-with-Eastby ward, added: “It was sad to hear this news and I feel very upset for the staff there, some of whom live in my ward.”

The company was originally opened and run by Victoria Robertshaw and her brother, James, on June 24, 2015.

The site was previously home to Nicholas Smith’s garage, petrol station and car showroom, which went on the market in 2010.

Victoria and James resigned as Keelham directors in 2019, while James continues to run the family’s original Keelham Farm Shop, in Thornton, Bradford, under the name Robertshaws.