Grate news! Cheese store scoops Shop of the Year award
An independent high street food store has been crowned a UK retail star for its “really strong brand and great vision”.
Cheese shop Slate at Aldeburgh scooped the Newcomer Award at the Guild of Fine Food’s ‘Shop of the Year’ annual awards, which took place on Monday, March 11.
Judges at the event, which recognises and promotes excellence in independent retail, said: “Slate is a fantastic business with a really strong brand and great vision, with values which they are successfully sharing with both their teams and their customers.”
The retailer, one of 45 in the running and the only one representing Suffolk at the awards, is run by father and daughter duo John Ormerod and Clare Jackson, who launched it in 2017.
They bought the business from Richard Lawson and Claire Bruce-Clayton, who founded Lawson’s Delicatessen in Aldeburgh and ran it for 10 years. Ms Jackson and her father took it over and re-branded it as Slate, opening up a second store in Southwold under the same name.
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The Guild of Fine Food presented seven trophies at the ceremony, which was held at Fodder Farm Shop and Café in Harrogate, following a rigorous assessment process.
There were two rounds of judging, including an announced visit from one of the expert judges and a mystery shop by customer experience specialists, Insight6.
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The panel of judges looked at everything from overall shopping experience and financial performance to staff training opportunities and environmental initiatives in place.
It included Edward Berry of The Flying Fork, Stuart Gates, former managing director at Fortnum & Mason and senior buyer at Harrods, award-winning retailer Tracey Colley and food writer, Patrick McGuigan.
They agreed, rated, scored and provided feedback on every aspect of the shops before agreeing on an overall category winner.
Leamington Spa-based Aubrey Allen won the Delicatessen & Grocer category, as well as the overall Shop of the Year title, and Perthshire-based The House of Bruar was named winner of the Food Hall award.
The Specialist Cheese Shop category went to Sheridans Cheesemongers from Dublin, and Farmer Copleys in Pontefract took top honours in the Farm Shop category.