Lancaster pieman looks to the future
Pies have been Russell Walsh’s life for 16 years but now the jovial Lancaster pieman is pondering a new career.
Russell says his newly-refitted Potts Pies shop in Bowerham could be his last hurrah in the pie game.
He’s battled back from adversity many times, surviving shop closures and liquidation.
But his pie-making business continues to evolve as he now expands into late-night opening of his one remaining shop, selling pizzas and burgers too.
“I’ve downsized down to just the one original shop at Bowerham and had a small refurb done, all mainly to be able to concentrate on hands-on production of our pies but on a smaller level,” said Russell.
“I’ve also introduced evening openings at the weekend, with delivery, including the addition of pizzas and burgers, and of course, pies.
“But I am also getting ready to sell the business off to find something else to do after all the ups and downs of the last 16 years.”
The Walshes bought the firm in 1988 after it was started in 1973 by Joe and Vena Potts. Then Russell took over from his father in 1999.
The Potts Pies name became well-known for excellence in pie production and Russell also had shops in Morecambe town centre, Torrisholme and Bolton-le-Sands over the years.
But after upgrading the Morecambe pie shop to ‘Potts Pie House’ pie and mash cafe and opening a franchise in Germany, he was forced to liquidate the business in 2011.
Russell set up a new firm with the same name, continued to trade and kept his staff in work.
His main problem in recent years, he claims, has been competition from cheaper pie firms who offer an inferior product.
“Who would have thought The Pound Bakery would have come along and been cheaper than Greggs?” he said.
“They are mass processed. I can’t compete on price.
“I was a victim of my own success really, I had to keep making pies but the costs kept rising.
“People are happy paying more than £3 for a sandwich but didn’t want to pay more than £1 for a pie.”
Russell has now sold both the Morecambe and Bolton-le-Sands outlets.
He’s left with the original shop, now called Potts Deli n Pies.
By focussing on one shop, Russell is happy getting back to basics, making pies himself in the Bowerham kitchen with the original family recipe.