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Apprentice employer celebrates becoming Guild of Fine Foods Shop of the Year 2020 finalist

Award winning fishmonger, café and deli business Latimer’s Seafood Limited has been announced as a finalist by the highly prestigious Guild of Fine Food’s annual national Shop of the Year Awards 2020. 

The Whitburn business is one of only seven retailers in the ‘Specialist Food or Drink Shop’ category and has fought off competition from independent retailers right across the UK and Ireland.

Latimer’s is no stranger to successful awards, regularly shortlisted and often winning national recognition as a previous winner of the national Farm Shop & Deli Awards, receiving the BBC Radio 4 ‘Best Local Retailer’ award and a nomination in the Most Supportive Employer category in the 2018 National Autism Awards held in Harrogate. They are also a recognised apprentice employer encouraging staff to develop through close links with Gateshead College, Sunderland College, Newcastle College Group and the University of Sunderland.

Ailsa Latimer a co-director of Latimer’s Seafood and wife of founder Robert Latimer said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled to be a finalist and are enjoying the moment of being recognised in this way with six other excellent independent retailers. Of course we still have two further very challenging hurdles to overcome in the form of the mystery shopper and a face to face visit from one of the discerning expert panel of judges. But to get this far in the face of such high quality national competition is fantastic.

“At Latimer’s we are committed to sustainably locally sourced quality seafood, great preparation and excellent customer service and this translates through our people who put incredibly hard work in and are remarkably dedicated to providing the best possible experience for our customers.

“We are open to adapting our recruitment and training process for the right people who share our values; as an employer it is great to see people grow and achieve things.”

Latimer’s written entry was reviewed by a panel of four highly decorated industry connoisseurs including Edward Berry of the Flying Fork, a food and drink consultant who has been responsible for the success of dozens of independent retailers, Stuart Gates a former managing director at Fortnum and Mason and senior buyer at Harrods, award winning retailer Tracey Colley and Patrick McGuigan a best selling food writer. 

From the overall shopping experience and financial performance to staff training opportunities and environmental initiatives Latimer’s will be thoroughly assessed, rated and the judges will provide feedback on every aspect of the business before agreeing on an overall category winner.

Robert Latimer said: “Latimer’s has been trading since 2002 and has transformed from a well-known local fish monger with a staff of two to a thriving deli and café business that now employs 30 staff. 

“We have great online community engagement through all our active social media channels and we often harness this by undertaking campaigns such as Reward for Claude and Claude Abroad to help raise awareness of the massive benefits of recruiting people with autism and autism related conditions into the work place.”

Shop of the Year 2020 will reach its exciting finale on Monday 9 March, when the world of fine food gather at Fodder Farm Shop and Café in Harrogate.

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