Judged and selected by some of the UK's most prominent food experts, this year's overall winner of 'Retailer of the Year' in the Farm Shop & Deli Awards was this week awarded to Fife-based Ardross Farm Shop.
The winner was announced at this year's Farm Shop & Deli Show at the NEC, Birmingham. Nearly 300 entrants were initially judged in category and regional rounds. Ardross won both previous stages, being declared Farm Shop of the Year at the category stage and coming out top in Scotland.
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Recognising the very best standards in speciality retail and celebrating the highest levels of service, product knowledge, innovation and community involvement, the robust judging process was managed by a panel of food industry experts including chairman of the judges, food critic, journalist and broadcaster Nigel Barden; acclaimed food and drink writer, chef and former restaurateur Elaine Lemm; Michelin-trained restaurateur and head of product development at Morrisons, Neil Nugent; television cook and Celebrity Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner; Michelin star winning head chef Tom Aikens; winner of Great British Bake Off Ed Kimber and many more.
Nigel Barden said: "Throughout the judging process we have scoured the UK for the best independent speciality retailer. Elaine and I have spent hours on the road travelling to a variety of exceptional establishments. The quality of the outlets we've seen only serves to highlight just how outstanding Ardross Farm Shop is. From a collection of brilliant butchers, cheesemongers, greengrocers, markets and delicatessens, Ardross has managed to combine so many elements - community spirit, specialist knowledge and magnificent produce - to represent a gold standard in the retail arena."
Elaine Lemm said: "What makes Ardross Farm Shop very special is the combination of things that they do so brilliantly, from using traditional, highly sustainable farming methods and maintaining exceptional welfare standards for their cattle, to customer service where it isn't unusual to pop out to the farm to cut another fresh cabbage especially for someone."
Nikki Storrar from Ardross Farm Shop said: "To have been announced as the overall winner of this year's Farm Shop and Deli Awards is just the most wonderful feeling - especially knowing that the decision was driven by customer votes and finally selected by a panel of some of the UK's top foodies! We were so thrilled to have been selected in both the category and regional judging stages and are absolutely overwhelmed to have been chosen as the overall winner. We'd like to thank our team at the shop for their ongoing hard work and making this accolade all the more meaningful."