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Durham butcher welcomed to national Q Guild

  • Durham butcher welcomed to national Q Guild

A Durham butcher`s shop established almost a half century ago has been awarded membership of the national Butchers Q Guild.

James A McMurchie Butchers in Hetton-le-Hole joins an exclusive group of 120 award-winning independent butchers across the UK. The Q Guild brand is held aloft as a seal of excellence, with some of the highest quality butchers in the country figuring among its growing ranks.

J.A McMurchie Meat was founded in 1968 by James Albert McMurchie, who at the tender age of 15 started work at Towers Meat Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne. After many years of being an established meat salesman, he decided it was time to strike out on his own and bought an abattoir in Haswell, Co. Durham.

The business grew steadily, supplying meat to establishments all over the North East, and in 1976 the butcher`s shop was built adjacent to the abattoir, which was forced to close in 1992 when the EEC`s introduction of new regulations and changes for abattoirs made it no longer cost-effective to operate.

James McMurchie retired in 1994 and his youngest son John took over the family business, which, under his tenure, has continued to thrive, grow and diversify over the ensuing years.

In 2010, J.A McMurchie Meat moved to larger premises in Caroline Street, Hetton-le-Hole, where a kitchen, bakery and delicatessen were added. This enabled the business to offer a much wider range of products, all hand-made on site.

Meat is sourced locally wherever possible and local suppliers include Thompsons Meat, of Witton-le-Wear, J.A. Jewitt Meat in Spennymoor and Country Valley Foods, Billingham.

McMurchie`s employs a ten-strong team made up of butchers, a chef, cooks and deli staff and John McMurchie said much of the shop`s success and progress in recent years could be put down to his excellent team. `They will all go that extra mile to both serve and offer expert advice and cooking tips to our growing customer base,` he said.

Asked why he was keen to join the Q Guild, Mr Murchie commented: `It`s a great honour for any butcher to display the Q Guild logo. Q Butchers are also renowned for sharing information and expertise, and being a member gives us access to this, including new product ideas.

`We are also keen to gain a better understanding of what consumers want by talking to other butchers within the Guild and to feel part of a UK-wide team of people who share the same passion within the trade.

`We are also looking forward to taking part in the Guild`s annual product evaluation competitions, which are among the toughest and most stringent tests in the land. We know we will be up against many of the best butchers in the business, but will welcome and learn from the expert feedback we will receive on the quality of our products.

`This can only help us improve them, as well as equip us with both ideas and inspiration for new product innovations from other members.`

Q Guild manager Gordon Newlands said: `We warmly welcome J.A McMurchie Meat into the Guild to bolster our already strong representation across the North East. We look forward to seeing them at our regional meetings, attending social events and entering our high-profile national product evaluations competitions. We know they will gain a great deal from the journey.`

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