Best Rural Retailer Announced

Wheeton’s in Harrogate has been declared Britain’s Best Rural Retailer by the Countryside Alliance, following a nationwide search which lasted months.

The competition, run in conjunction with British Food Fortnight and Farmers Weekly, aimed to find the independent UK retailer that was the best ambassador for local produce and producers. Initial nominations were accepted from the general public, and the list was then whittled down to thirteen regional finalists.

Wheeton’s, the eventual winner, came out ahead of over 600 nominations. It is run by businessman Andrew Loftus, supports over 35 local farmers and producers, and prides itself on being open during convenient hours for shoppers. One of the nominations for Wheeton’s was from a monk at Amplefort Abbey; not only does the shop sell Amleforth’s apples, but the staff help with the harvest.

Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the CA, said: ‘Wheeton’s is a worth winner. It is still a new business but the impact it ha

s made is phenomenal. Andrew’s commitment to local, seasonal food is clear, but he has gone further than simply support Yorkshire producers.

‘He has reinvigorated the market for local produce, and with his food miles labelling system he is making consumers think about what they put in their shopping basket.’

Despite being open for only six months, the shop is going from strength to strength, and is set to turn over £1.25 million within a year, and has a staff of 20 and plans for another outlet.

Chapman’s farm shop in County Armagh and Lincolnshire-based Pink Pig Organics were highly commended by the Judges.