The Winner of the Independent Takeaway of the Year Award 2011 –

The Winner of the Independent Takeaway of the Year Award 2011 Published:  24 January, 2012

Seniors celebrate with Kristine Gramstad, Norwegian Fisheries State Secretary

‘Seniors @ Marsh Mill’ based in Thornton, Lancashire has won the prestigious title of the National Independent Takeaway Award 2012 sponsored by Norwegian Seafood Council.

From hundreds of entries across the UK, the top 10 regional finalists congregated at the Fish & Chip Shop awards ceremony on 17th January.

The shop, run by brothers Alastair and Dominic Horabin, prevailed as the best in the UK with Hanbury’s from Babbacombe, Devon in second place followed by Quayside from Whitby, North Yorkshire in third place.

The final 10 places were hard earned after they all received an unannounced visit from industry judges. Shops were assessed on a wide variety of judging criteria including; product quality, customer service, food preparation procedures, hygiene, innovation, staff training and development, promotional activity and approaches to sustainable sourcing.

Johan Kvalheim, director at the Norwegian Seafood Council which sponsored the award says: “We wish the team at Seniors the best of luck for a very exciting 2012. We were delighted to host the ten finalists throughout a study trip to Norway last year and are pleased to learn that many of them are taking steps to improve the sustainability of their businesses in the UK. We would like to express our many congratulations to all of the finalists and we wish them the best of luck for a successful 2012.”

As proud sponsors, Norwegian Seafood Council had the pleasure of speaking to Alastair at the awards.

Alastair Horabin, Seniors @ Marsh Mill, winner of Independent Takeaway of the Year 2012

1.How do you feel about winning this fantastic award?

Proud and honoured for the team at Seniors. After being placed third last year the team really encouraged me to go for the award again, we went back to the drawing board to improve the business and build the business into what we have today. I am so proud for the staff.

2. How do you believe it will affect your business in the future?

From what you hear about the success of previous winners and how instantly your business will change after winning this competition, I hope the business will grow into an even more successful chip shop. However, we plan to keep the business model the same with the committed staff which we have and keep the balance of family and work life.

3.Did you enjoy the process of entering the award and did you discover any new aspects to your business?

The whole process of entering the awards takes 12 months which we have been through before and as I mentioned earlier we re-assessed the business as a whole to ensure we had the best possible chip shop. The competition looks for consistently high quality standards and service within a business and with two mystery visits of the judges, it ensured we were up to scratch.

4. How did your customers respond when you won the regional award?

Our customers know to expect the high quality standards which we provide at Seniors and therefore didn’t seem too surprised when we were awarded our regional title. I’m sure they will be thrilled to learn that their local is now the Best Fish & Chip shop in the UK.

5. Do you use a sustainable source of fish?

Our policy is 100% sustainable.

6. Do your customers ask for sustainable fish options?

Customers don’t necessarily request sustainable fish, however, they believe in the quality and at Seniors we believe sustainable fish is part of the whole package of high quality.

7. Do you use Norwegian fish within your shop? If so why?

Absolutely, we use Norwegian FAS cod and haddock in our shops and we are continually pleased with the consistently high quality of the product.

8. Has your business incorporated anything you learnt on your trip to Norway?

We use 100% sustainable FAS cod and haddock and following my trip to Norway in November last year I completely understand the sustainable product which Norway offers. We will always use sustainable FAS cod and haddock and if it is available Norwegian would be our first choice.

9. How did you promote your regional win?

We promoted our regional title within the local press to ensure all our customers and potential customers were aware of our accolade. Now that we have won the National award but we just want to keep our business as a successful family-run operation on and on into the future, it will be interesting to see how this award helps to grow our business as a whole.

Organised by Seafish, the Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award recognises the wealth of quality, value and choice offered by the nation’s much loved independent fish & chip shops. The title has in the past resulted in a sales increase of up to 100 per cent for the winning shop.

Nikki Hawkins, foodservice and events manager at Seafish, said: “This competition has undoubtedly been our fiercest yet and we congratulate the team at Seniors for their stellar effort in achieving the number one spot. The UK’s fish and chip shops are a national institution and have recognised the best of the UK’s fish and chip shops for the past 24 years with 2012’s high standard of entries was testament to the industry’s commitment to continued improvement and sustainability.”