Knights Meats closes its doors after 45 years

It is with deep sadness and regret that James and Deanna McNaughton, owners of Knights Meats, announce the beloved Wagga Wagga store will close its doors forever at 4pm on Saturday 20th July 2019. 

After taking over ownership 10 years ago, the business has faced ongoing challenges including the tough economic climate impacting regional communities during drought.

“Continual increases in prices at the stockyards has had a huge impact on the wholesale price of meat, and whilst Knights tries to purchase locally wherever possible, even a medium-sized business like ours finds it hard to compete as our overheads are high and we don't have the scale of the multinationals,” Mr McNaughton said.

The closure of the council carpark opposite Knights for three months earlier this year saw an unprecedented drop in customer numbers resulting in changed shopping habits, which the business has not been able to recover from.

Other factors impacting the business include increased electricity costs, as well as theft by both staff and customers, with two major employee theft incidents occurring in the past two years totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Despite opening their doors on Sundays from the beginning of the year for customer convenience, the uptake has been insufficient to go on.

“There is an opportunity for the Knights legacy to continue if a buyer comes forward quickly. We are definitely keen for someone with the means, experience and passion to take this business into the future and save the jobs of our staff,” Mrs McNaughton said.
There have been many highlights for the business over the past 10 years including:

  • Recent involvement in Wagga’s Lost Lanes festival

  • Winning 2 x gold, 1 x silver and 9 x bronze awards at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show

  • Development of new product ranges including Knights Riverina gourmet products, Riverina Smokehouse jerky and 8 flavours of bacon

  • Represented the Riverina at Fine Foods Australia expo and Canberra Handmade Markets

  • Development of hot cooked meals, an online store with local delivery, private catering and stalls at local events

  • Hosted local producers’ degustation dinners, cheese and wine matching, and butchering classes in store 

Over the past 45 years, the business has:

  • Employed hundreds of locals, including giving many young juniors their first job and training of local butchers

  • Championed local products and provided shelf space and promotion for hundreds of local farmers, growers, makers and bakers from throughout the Riverina including Dough Re Mi, Junee Licorice Factory, Cackleberries Eggs, Wollundry Grove Olives, Happy Wombat Hazelnuts, MyChef, Whispering Pines Organics, Crowley’s Hot Sauce, the Artisan Baker and many more

  • Sold tens of thousands of Christmas hams, smoked on site to Knights own traditional recipe

  • Donated huge amounts of products and funds for sponsorship of local Wagga sporting clubs, not-for-profits and causes

  • Held stalls at local events including the Wagga Food and Wine Show, River & Wren Markets, Fusion Multicultural Festival, Gears & Beers, Taste Riverina Food Festival, and Lost Lanes festival.

“The closing of Knights is a huge loss to the Wagga community. For retail bricks and mortar stores in regional centres, business is tough. We can only ask people to keep fighting for local businesses. If you like a store, shop there. Shop there often,” Mrs McNaughton said. 

“A week is not a long time to say goodbye after all of these years. We invite our customers to come in store, stock up on all of their favourites and say a final farewell to our staff before the doors close for good at 4pm on Saturday 20th July.”

Cristy Houghton