Four mean holding a wooden trophy and smiling at the camera

Source: William Reed

L-r: Nigel Bardon, Matt Whelan from Fieldfare, Aidan Monks, and 2023 winner James Cunningham

Cumbria-based bakery Lovingly Artisan scooped the top accolade at the Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2024.

The bakery, located in Kendal and run by husband-and-wife-team Aidan Monks and Catherine Connor, beat competition from across the UK to be named Retailer of the Year at the awards which took place on Monday 29 April at the Birmingham NEC.

Following a comprehensive judging process, the acclaimed bakery was also named Baker of the Year and received the gong for North England Regional Winner.

The judges praised Lovingly Artisan highly, with comments including: “This excellent bakery has innovation with its new wood chip oven which has increased turnover, and, because of this, they have a good carbon footprint.”

It was also lauded for its “innovative business methods”, “knowledgeable and passionate staff”, and “strong brand identity” as well as its use of a bread truck which was introduced last summer.

The business is no stranger to awards, with Monks being named Baker of the Year at the 2019 Baking Industry Awards and Lovingly Artisan being named the best artisan bakery in Britain twice as part of British Baker’s The Artisan Collective event, among its accolades.

Lovingly Artisan's Catherine Connor (back right) and Emily Tagg serve customers from its new Bread Truck   2100x1400

Source: Lovingly Artisan

Lovingly Artisan’s Bread Truck

Judging process

There were 11 category winners and seven regional winners at the Farm Shop & Deli Awards, as well as trophies for Newcomer of the Year and Retailer of the Year (see full list below).

The coveted accolades celebrate the best specialist independent retailers with judges recognising retailers’ achievements in the independent sector.

A team of leading experts judged the entries online before coming together last November to deliberate and shortlist the contenders. During January and February, secret visits took place before the winners, and overall Retailer of the Year, were decided.

“I’m delighted we’ve awarded category and regional winners, and this year’s Retailer of the Year has also picked up the accolades of Best Baker and Best Retailer in the North of England,” said broadcaster Nigel Barden, who was chairman of the judges. “Aidan Monks has been baking for 35 years and the Kendal and Altrincham bakeries that he and Catherine Connor, his wife, run, are sublime, as are the team who work with them.

“It was also marvellous to see such a wide ranging and talented shortlist for our Newcomer of the Year award, with The Cheesy Living Co, based inside the Corn Exchange in Leeds, coming out on top,” Barden added.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Baker, North England Regional Winner Lovingly Artisan Bakery, Kendal
Highly Commended Baker Sett Valley Cafe, High Peak
Butcher Roast Mutton, Kendal
Cheesemonger and South England Regional Winner Cheese Etc, Reading
Delicatessen and Anglia Regional Winner The Norfolk Delicatessen, Hunstanton
Highly Commended Delicatessen Forest Deli, Coleford
Farm Shop – Large and Midlands Regional Winner Welbeck Farm Shop, Worksop
Highly Commended Farm Shop Large Forage Farm Shop & Kitchen, Cowbridge and High Street Harvest, Craigavon
Farm Shop – Small Sky Park Farm, West Harting
Highly Commended Farm Shop Small Quayside Fresh, Looe
Fishmonger Bells Fishmongers, Carlisle
Highly Commended Fishmonger Off The Hook, Wadebridge
Food Hall Macknade Food Hall, Faversham
Greengrocer The Greengrocer Thirsk, Thirsk
Independent Local Shop/Village Store Bulwick Village Shop/The Pickled Shop, Bulwick, Corby
Online Business Bay’s Kitchen, Cheltenham
Newcomer of the Year The Cheesy Living Co., Leeds
Northern Ireland Regional Winner High Street Harvest, Craigavon
Scotland Regional Winner Marshall’s Farm Shop, Aberdeen
Wales Regional Winner Forage Farm Shop & Kitchen, Cowbridge