On Thursday 20 September, the Guild of Fine Food crowned the UK’s best independent retailers, as Shop of the Year 2018 reached its exciting finale in London. Established to recognise and promote excellence in the industry, the accreditation scheme was newly expanded this year to offer even more opportunities for small independent retailers.
Delifonseca Dockside in Liverpool was awarded Best Delicatessen, Bradford-based Keelham Farm Shop won Best Farm Shop with Food Hall and Cheshire’s specialist grocer, Godfrey C. Williams & Son, claimed Best Grocer, Village or Community Shop. With this trio of top honours going to retailers from the North, The Cheese Society in Lincoln completed the line-up, taking home Best Specialist Cheese Shop.
All the trophies were presented at No. 42 Southwark Street, the Guild of Fine Food’s London base, where the world of fine food gathered to find out the winners of each category, selected following two rounds of judging over the summer, which included an announced visit from one of the industry expert judges and a mystery shop by customer experience experts, Insight6.
With a “spacious, well stocked and laid out food hall”, Delifonseca Dockside, which has a “good atmosphere and low staff turnover”, was applauded for its “wide range of local, national and international produce, from local honey and bread to global beers and 120 cheeses from all over the world”. Packed with all the “farm shop classics, such as meat, fruits and vegetables,” Keelham Farm Shop also impressed the judges with its more novel offerings, from a range of pulses and a juice bar to its new product development, which now includes a curry range.
A family business since 1875, Godfrey C. Williams & Son received high praise for its “excellent customer service values”, vast range of certain brands and merchandising. While further off the beaten track, innovative ideas, such as a Cheese Lucky Dip, “very cool’ branded cool bags and a cheese café scooped The Cheese Society its gong, with the panel commenting on its excellent layout and “perfect balance of cheese, accompaniments and tools”.
Shop of the Year 2018 winners
Best Delicatessen sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP
Delifonseca Dockside, Liverpool
Best Farm Shop or Garden Centre with Food Hall sponsored by Petty Wood
Keelham Farm Shop, Bradford
Best Grocer, Village or Community Shop sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP
Godfrey C. Williams & Son, Cheshire
Best Specialist Cheese Shop sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP
The Cheese Society, Lincoln
Special Shop of the Year Awards
Newcomer Award sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP
Fillet & Bone, Gloucestershire
Retail Hero sponsored by Le Gruyere AOP
Clare Jones from Delifonseca Dockside, Liverpool
From overall shopping experience and financial performance to staff training opportunities and environmental initiatives in place, the panel of judges, which includes Edward Berry of The Flying Fork, Stuart Gates, who has worked for both Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, food journalist Patrick McGuigan, award-winning retailer Tracey Colley and food industry advisor, Sam Rosen-Nash, rated, scored and fed back on every aspect of the shops before agreeing on an overall category winner.
As of Friday 21 September, entry will open for Shop of the Year 2019 at gff.co.uk/awards/shop-of-the-year, with independent retailers now invited to submit a written submission for Best Delicatessen & Grocer; Specialist Cheese Shop; Farm Shop (farmer owned); Food Hall; Specialist Food or Drink Shop; and Newcomer. Judging will begin in November before the winners are announced at Fine Food Show North, Harrogate, which takes place on Sunday 10 and Monday 11 March 2019.