A CHEESE shop in Pangbourne has been shortlisted for the Guild of Fine Food's annual Shop of the Year award.

The Pangbourne Cheese Shop is one of five shops in the south east who have made it to the finals.

The accreditation scheme recognises and promotes excellence in independent retail in the following categories: Delicatessen & Grocer, Specialist Cheese Shop, Farm Shop (farmer owned), Food Hall and Specialist Food or Drink Shop.

Across the country, 36 independent retail outlets have been named as finalists.

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Having had a written entry reviewed by a panel of respected industry experts, these retailers will now undergo two further rounds of judging; an announced visit from one of the judges and a mystery shop carried out by Insight6.

Shop of the Year 2020 will reach its finale on Monday March 9 when the world of fine food gathers at Fodder Farm Shop and Café in Harrogate to find out the winners of each category.

Shop of the Year finalists from the South East:

  • The Pangbourne Cheese Shop, Reading - Specialist Cheese Shop
  • The Cheese Plate, Hertfordshire - Specialist Cheese Shop
  • Cowdray Farm Shop and Café, Midhurst, West Sussex - Food Hall
  • Thyme & Tides, Stockbridge, Hampshire - Specialist Food or Drink Shop
  • The Seasons Forest Row, Forest Row, East Sussex - Delicatessen & Grocer

From overall shopping experience and financial performance to staff training opportunities and environmental initiatives in place, the panel of judges, which includes Stuart Gates, former managing director at Fortnum & Mason and senior buyer at Harrods, award-winning retailer Tracey Colley and food writer, Patrick McGuigan, will rate, score and provide feedback on every aspect of the shops before agreeing on an overall category winner.

A Newcomer Award will be given to a worthy category entrant that has been trading for less than two years and any entrants considered to be leading the way with new ideas will be put forward for the Innovation Award.