Original article from Kent Live
You might not have heard of Aldington Fresh Foods before, but the butchers just seven miles from the town of Ashford has been making an impression in the last year or so in the county.
Their quality cuts of meat, sausages, chicken kebabs, burgers and a variety of flavours have made them a popular choice.
Even Paul O'Grady, who has a Kentish farmhouse in the village has been to the shop on a few occasions.
The likes of actor Julian Clary and Lord and Lady Aldington have also made visits.
It's no wonder they have considering the butchers was crowned UK Independent Food Retailer of the Year by the monthly business magazine CEO Today, which recognises strong innovation and leadership.
The award itself comprises of a three month public and peer vote, which takes place online and culminates in a potential shortlist which is then judged in-house by the magazine.
The butchers, which also have a fishmongers in nearby Dymchurch, came out on top in 2021.
Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you'll get the latest news direct to your inbox twice a day.
It couldn't be simpler and it takes seconds – simply press here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. You can also enter your email address in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
You can also sign up to our website and comment on our stories by pressing here and signing in.
Managing Director Peter Vickerman was "over the moon" with the award, and credits the work put in by his staff.
"We've all worked hard, it's not just about me it's the whole team," he said.
"The staff were amazing last year, absolutely amazing."
The combination of the skill and personality of the staff plus the quality of the food on offer meant that Aldington Fresh Foods couldn't get rid of the queues.
"It was more rewarding in a sense for the customers to be honest," Vickerman said.
"They were so impressed with the products, they said they were never going to go back to a supermarket again.
"We've still seen a lot of new faces we've gained through adverts."
Vickerman attributes some of the success of the business to the home delivery system that went into full swing during the early days of the COVID pandemic which helped maintain their income.
"It's probably part and parcel of getting ahead of the game. I started that two weeks before we went into lockdown," he said.
"Obviously I knew we were going to lose all of our revenue from the wholesale side because obviously the restaurants all got locked down from March 23, and I thought 'we're in trouble here'."
However, the business went from "strength to strength" using that method as customers still wanted their fresh and bespoke products delivered.
In fact they managed to deliver to an incredible 64,000 people wanting a taste of their food.
In the long term Vickerman hopes to take the business online, and even look to take on nationwide deliveries.