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The regional winners of the 2021 Farm Shop & Deli Retailer Awards were announced this week after the postponement of the flagship Farm Shop & Deli Show.
Whittled down from a shortlist of 153 fine food retailers, 30 independents were chosen as Commended Retailers and nine of these were announced as Regional Winners. “We are all aware that the past 15 months have been like no other and that the traditional retail world of food and drink has dramatically changed,” said Nigel Barden, chair of judges. “The Farm Shop & Deli finalists have illustrated how crucial they are to their communities at a time when many consumers remained in their homes. This includes dedicated online businesses which have witnessed huge growth during these difficult times, and traditional retailers who increased their online offer.
“But it’s the stories of innovation and imagination way beyond these that took our judges’ breath away. Florists who became greengrocers, farmers who loaded their trailers to deliver to the vulnerable, providing a human face and voice to the isolated,” Nigel continued. “The food offer from our finalists has been sublime while the consideration of mental health and wellbeing for customers and staff has been paramount. It has put independent retailers right back in the heart of their communities, with an increased appreciation from grateful shoppers.”
This year’s awards saw a change to the judging criteria to shine a light on retailers who deserved recognition for their work during the pandemic, with the winners selected from Best in Region, rather than the traditional categories from previous years.
“We are so excited to have been chosen as the winner for the Scotland region and we’re humbled to have read some of the nominations we had received. We remain committed to support our communities whilst recovery from the pandemic is ongoing and wish all other small businesses the best of luck on their journey,” said Stephanie MacQueen, director of Pro Fish Services Ltd, Regional Winners for Scotland.
“I took over the family business in January when my dad retired. It was a small shop with just myself and no staff, and with the traditional butcher shops dying in small towns I was happy just to get a wage. Covid gave me the push to move the shop in a new direction. I started a free delivery service to get started and that grew fast, allowing me to hire some staff, and with the help of social media I was able to start changing the shop to suit the new demands for delivery and cooked products. So after a year of changes for me and the effects of Covid to my customers this award is not only a prize it is a special honour for me and my staff that hard work does pay off,” said John Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Butchers, 2021 Regional Winners for Northern Ireland.
“We are delighted to have won such a prestigious award! We just want to say thank you to our team for making this possible. Throughout the entire pandemic everyone has worked incredibly hard to create a safe and enjoyable space for our local community. This reward means even more with the focus being on community support this year, as in the last few years since we have taken over Bodnant Welsh Food our local community have continually supported us, and this year highlighted that to us further,” said Tilly Reynolds of Bodnant Welsh Food, 2021 Regional Winners for Wales.
“This award means so much because the judging panel were focussing on businesses that responded positively to Covid-19. It could not come at a better time to lift the spirits of the staff and to reward their relentless efforts over the past eighteen months. Our tactile business model was turned upside down overnight and thanks to a committed, forward-thinking team, supported by some incredible suppliers, we were able to present a Covid safe model of food shopping to our community, which I think in time also offered a little bit of normal and even a virtual hug,” said Eggs to Apples Farm Shop, 2021 Regional Winners for the South East.
“Winning has been such a boost to my confidence and my customers have been so pleased that I won. My shop is a mobile van which customers go onto on their own and I stand outside in all weathers while they shout out what they are putting into their bags. The last year has been very challenging and I have worked long hours in rain, snow and dark. It is so lovely to be recognised for this. I would encourage anyone to enter into the competition next year as it has certainly given me a boost.” Sarah Barron, owner of Barron’s Mobile Shop, 2021 Regional Winners for East Anglia.
East Anglia: Barron’s Mobile Shop, Colchester
Midlands: The Farm Stratford, Snitterfield
North East: Corbridge Larder, Northumberland
North West: Seasons Bakery, Ingleton
Northern Ireland: Wilsons Butchers, Downpatrick
Scotland: Pro Fish Services, Aviemore
South East: Eggs to Apples Farm Shop, Hurst Green
South West: Veg in a Box, Exeter
Wales: Bodnant Welsh Food, Conwy
Images featuring: Bodnant Welsh Food, Eggs to Apples Farm Shop, Seasons Bakery and The Farm Stratford
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