It’s official – Simpsons in Heckington is the best butcher’s shop in the UK. Gary Simpson won the ultimate accolade when his flagship store was named national Butcher’s Shop of Year 2015 in the Meat Trades Journal Awards.
“It’s a fantastic tribute to all the hard work that we have put into running a modern butcher’s shop that still has traditional values,” said Gary.
“I’m particularly proud because I am first generation butcher and we were up against butchers whose families have a rich history in the trade.”
Gary operates six stores across Lincolnshire, but Heckington is where it all began and it won the Midlands and East of England Butcher’s Shop of the Year in 2014. This year it picked up that same award making it eligible to compete against winners from the five other UK regions for the national title.
Gary knew the Heckington store stood a great chance as it was underwent a complete refit this earlier this year, which included a state-of-the art dry-aging cabinet and ultra quiet and efficient refrigeration units to store the wide range of products for which Simpsons is renowned.
“It was fingers crossed but I did have an inkling that this would be our year as we had picked up the regional award last year and so much work had been done since then.
“I think it now represents what Simpsons has achieved and how we wanted to be perceived – as a modern and innovative butchers, but one that uses butchering techniques passed down through the ages,” said Gary.
Simpsons beat off competition from Scotland, Northern Ireland, North of England, South of England and Wales to take the title. “There was tough competition as we have all reached the top standards to be regional winners, but we knew we have been doing something right as we have had many local butchers – and some from other parts of the country – come to us for product ideas.”
Gary is successfully passing on his skills to a new generation as James Taylor, was one of the three finalists in the Young Butcher of the Year award and although he did not win his mentor was proud of the 18-year-old’s achievement. “He has been training with me for two years and his nomination underlines Simpsons’ commitment to young people in the industry and giving them the skills to succeed.”
Simpson’s five other stores are located in Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln, Stamford and Pennells Garden Centre, South Hykeham, which opened in the spring. The Heckington refurbishment – its third since opening in 2001 – is part of the on going development of all the shops.