Just 'Howie' does he do it?

A Scottish butcher is celebrating after being crowned the best butcher in Britain following a glittering awards ceremony at Claridges, London, yesterday.

Simon Howie, of Perth, Perthshire (pictured), was crowned both Scotland's and the overall UK's Butcher's Shop of the Year by trade magazine the Meat Trades Journal and publishers William Reed.

MTJ's judges described the winning shop as having "a dazzling counter display and organisation that is simply the best".

Simon Howie has two shops, a meat processing factory, as well as running 15 butchery counters in Sainsbury's stores throughout Scotland. Simon Howie, owner of the eponymously named company, said he was delighted to receive the award. "It is a massive deal for us to win UK's Butcher's Shop of the Year Award in the UK. There is nothing like this. We are the best in Britain and we are going to shout about this from the rooftops and tell everybody about this award."

Simon added that the award offered a brilliant marketing opportunity and there was no way he was "going squander the effort put in to win the accolade and the opportunity it offered."

Ed Bedington, editor of Meat Trades Journal, said: "Simon's business is a fantastic operation and testament to the fact that small independent butchers are still a vibrant force on the High Street.

"All our finalists and regional winners represented some of the best operators in the business and Simon and his team had some tough competition to take the title."

Justin James, category manager of meat at Sainsbury's added: "Sainsbury's has worked with Simon Howie for over three years, developing our locally sourced meat on the counter. Our ability to better satisfy customers' needs is a testament to his hard work and local knowledge. This award is a well deserved accolade and reflects Simon's passion, drive and enthusiasm for serving customers quality Scottish meat"

The win is the second success for Simon Howie, who took the title of UK Top Shop of the Year 2002, MTJ's forerunner to this year's renamed Butcher's Shop of the Year Awards.

The other winners were:

? Midlands and East of England - John Petiit, Grimsby. Linclonshire

? South of England - Bonners the Butchers, Ilminister, Somerset

? North of England - Steadmans, Sedbergh, Cumbria

? Wales - J T Vernon. The Cross, Holt, near Wrexham

? Northern Ireland - McCartney's Moira, Down

? Farm Shop - Blagdon Farm Shop, Blagdon, near Newcastle upon Tyne

Two new categories were introduced this year and the winners were:

? Best Innovation - Farmer Copley's, Ravensknowle Farm,Purston, Pontefract, West Yorkshire ? Butcher's' Plus - Robertsons, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

Pictures of the event can be downloaded from www.roblawson.com as from tomorrow (9 November).

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