Marks & SPENCER’s efforts to develop a ‘caring’ image helped it triumph at this year’s Sammies – the annual British Sandwich Industry Awards.

The retailer took four of the 14 awards and won both the Sandwich Retail Multiple and New Sandwich of the Year categories for the second year.

M&S sandwich buyer George Hebditch said using cardboard to pack its sandwiches had added value and shown shoppers that it was environmentally responsible, while an initiative to donate money to Shelter on sandwich packs over Christmas had proved popular.

M&S also increased its premium lines and answered calls for more variety with its Limited Edition sub-brand, which introduced new sandwiches every few months. One of these – New York Deli Pastrami, with pastrami, Gruyere, Emmenthal, sauerkraut and pickled gherkins on rye and carraway seed bread – won the New Sandwich of the Year award.

Said Hebditch: “Fillings don’t need to be weird and wonderful – it’s about taking a modern twist on a classic or exploring new flavours and trends.” He added that M&S had widened the appeal of some old favourites, such as Prawn Mayonnaise, by reducing the calories.

Variety was also key for Baker Sandwich Maker award winner Coughlans, which introduces a new sandwich each week to maintain interest.

“It’s worked because we have the confidence to try new fillings, such as buffalo mozarella, pine nuts, basil, avocado, spinach and plum tomatoes. And we aren’t afraid to take popular products off the shevles,” said MD Sean Coughlan. “Customers want quality and consistency.”

He added that its new Munch store format had made a big impact: “It’s a much more modern concept. We’ve tried to break down the stuffy barriers.”

Phillip Brown, founder of Philpott’s sandwich bar chain, won the British Sandwich Industry Award for his contribution to the industry, while his business walked off with the Specialist Sandwich Bar Chain of the Year Award for the sixth time in 11 years.

Brown said: “We have worked on giving our customers a ‘tangible hug’ when they come into our shops. We give them charm, choice and opulence, but they can also order on-line which is an important part of what we do.”

While established names took a number of the awards, several newer sandwich operations were also recognised, including Café Mana in London, which took the Independent Sandwich Bar category.

Mark Arnold at Brambles Foods won Overall British Sandwich Designer. Organic firm ‘Fresh! Naturally’ won the Workplace Sandwich Supplier of the Year award.