Page 36 www.lux-review.com LUXlife 2019 Food & Drink Awards For more than half a century independent meat specialist Blackwells Butchers Ltd has been providing delicious, quality meats to the village of Norton, in Stockton on Tees. Over the years the firm has gained a reputation throughout the UK for its quality service and sumptuous produce, as LUXlife found out as we profiled the firm to find out more about how it came to win one of this year’s highly-prized Food and Drink Awards. Blackwells Butchers Ltd: Best Independent Butcher - North East England Nestled in the heart of Norton Village, Blackwells is an integral part of the local community and village life and are strongly committed to not only providing the very best produce available but also protecting the heritage and maintaining the character of Norton. The store has become a local institution, and to this very day Blackwells is very proud to work with local community groups, for example Norton business adopting the ‘Love Norton’ campaign; St. Mary’s Parish Church and their annual Advent Trail. As well as its village store, Blackwells also has two Street Deli vans serving the businesses and workplaces across the region daily with fresh pastries and sandwiches. Thanks to these vans the business is able to offer outside catering with a bespoke catering service, which also includes catering for corporate events and weddings using its vintage Street Kitchen van. Popular with locals and visitors alike, the Blackwells website offers a national delivery service for all the businesses products so that customers from far and wide can enjoy these delicious treats and create showstopping meals from fresh, perfectly prepared meats. Quality has always been central to the success of Blackwells, and to ensure that it consistently achieves and maintains the achieves the high standards customers have come to expect, the business only works with the best suppliers on the market. The team constantly strives to deliver 100% always and guarantee that if a customer is unable to find what they are looking for in the shop itself, then they will do their best to source it and offer it. As testimony to the level of excellence it offers in its meats and its service, Blackwells has been recognised with Q Guild status, which makes it one of Britain’s best quality butchers. The Guild represent the highest quality butchers and independent meat re- tailers in the UK. Currently the Guild has 121 members from Inverness to Cornwall, serve £5 million worth of outstanding meat and related products to over a quarter of a million discerning UK consumers every week. Everyone at Blackwells is incredibly proud of this achievement, and are constantly working to ensure that the shop remains a key fixture of the British high street even as it undergoes a frightening transformation. After all, many small, independent butcher’s shops are disappearing as a result of the aggressive behaviour of large supermarket chains. As well as offering a full range of pre-packed cuts of meat, almost all of the large supermarkets also have butchery counters that compete directly with High Street butchers. In the early 1980s, only around 20% of meat was bought from supermarkets but by the 2010s this had increased to about 80%. While there is still room in the market for the independent, many surviving businesses such as Blackwells has had to innovate and diversify in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Dedicated to remaining independent and constantly enhancing its success, Blackwells has redefined itself to meet the needs of the today’s customer. In recent years the business has opened a delicatessen counter offering hot food, pies, sandwiches and salad bar. The team has also enhanced its meat offering to include more hassle-free meals and items that are often found in supermarkets, but these are packaged fresh in store so that customers receive the quality they expect in a more convenient package.