Shop challenge

The hunt is on for the UK's best butchery business in MTJ's annual Butcher's Shop of the Year Awards (BSOTY).

One of the highlights of the high street butchery business' calendar, the competition aims to unearth and highlight some of the best operations across the UK's high streets, villages, towns and cities. The competition covers butchers' shops around the country, with the winner in each region going head to head to see which one is declared the best butcher's shop in the UK. Other national awards include the UK's best farmshop and our Butcher's Plus award, aimed at expanded butchery businesses typically shops that have added on extra services or broadened the range beyond meat. Our Young Butcher of the Year award will yet again feature this year, with MTJ Extra looking to highlight some of the best young talent throughout the industry.

Ed Bedington, editor of MTJ, said: "These awards are some of the most hotly contested titles around. To be a finalist, let alone declared the winner, either in your region or by taking the top crown, can mean a huge amount to any business.

"We've seen past winners manage to significantly boost their turnover following the competition, not to mention the opportunity to promote your business in both the local media and to your customers. There are some superb shops out there and it's always a pleasure to give them the recognition they deserve.

"I'm also really looking forward to our Young Butcher competition. In the past few years, the standard of our finalists has been stunning, and it's a real honour to be able to hand out the prize to our ultimate winner. We need to do all we can to encourage our young butchers, so if you've got a star in the making in your shop, don't hide his or her light under a bushel let's reward those skills."

The competition is judged in two rounds, with an initial paper entry being assessed by a panel of expert judges from a broad spectrum of retail and butchery experience, including last year's winner Brian Fields, who took the overall title with Fields of Anlaby. A shortlist of three finalists in each category will then be visited by our on-the-road judges to decide our overall winners.

A further category, Innovation of the Year, will also be assessed on paper and the winner picked during the first round of judging. Bedington added: "The innovation can be something simple from creating a unique queuing system in your store or finding a new way to engage with your customers or more high-tech, such as using mobile phone technology to reach new customers."

This year's awards, which take place on 16 November at The Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, London, are sponsored by Eblex, Bpex, Weddel Swift and Harmony Farm, Lucas Ingredients, Tican Chilled, Bizerba, QMS' Scotch Butchers' Club and the Meat Training Council.

Entry forms for the awards are being sent out now, or you can download a copy from www.meatinfo.co.uk. Entry deadline is 6 August.