Grasmere Gingerbread® wins top north of England business award

Joanne Hunter - co-director of Grasmere Gingerbread® - was personally acclaimed as the iconic 170-year-old bakery and tourist attraction was crowned Speciality Food Retailer of the Year in the 2023/24 North of England Prestige Awards.

“Joanne Hunter has done an incredible job of protecting the secret recipe behind Grasmere Gingerbread® which tastes unlike anything else in the world,” said Prestige CEO and founder Osmaan Mahmood.

Prestige Awards - which operates globally - champions small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are guided by a personalised service-driven ethos.

Mr Mahmood, who judged this year’s entries, praised Joanne for not only safeguarding the heritage of The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop but for not “compromising on the elements” that make Grasmere Gingerbread® unique.

Joanne, who was accompanied to the ceremony by her husband and fellow-co-director Andrew, was “delighted if a little taken aback” by Mr Mahmood’s glowing comments.

“I was very flattered but also relieved that he recognised the behind-the-scenes team effort that goes into making Grasmere Gingerbread® so special and popular with our national and international customers,” she said.

Joanne and Andrew took over the business in 2000 when it employed just three members of staff.

“We have focussed on sustainable growth and now employ 30 people across our bakery and shop operations in Grasmere, a growing e-commerce department and an expanding outside events programme,” she said.

Grasmere Gingerbread® opened a second shop in Hawkshead last year to meet demand for its spicy-sweet cross between a biscuit and cake which is wrapped in traditional blue and white liveried parchment.

In assessing businesses, Prestige judges looked for service excellence, product quality, innovative practices, value, ethical/sustainable methods of working and consistency of performance.

The Prestige Award is the second major accolade won by Grasmere Gingerbread® in recent months after it clinched the title of Large Independent Retailer of the Year at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards in London last September.

There, judges described Grasmere Gingerbread® as a “pioneering retailer” that keeps “Cumbria’s rich culinary history alive and thriving”.