Kitsons Butchers Poised to Beef Up Christmas

North of England butcher Anthony Kitson made history when purchasing the overall supreme champion beef cattle at all three of the country’s principal Christmas primestock shows this year – the English Winter Fair, the Royal Welsh Winter Fair and the Scottish Winter Fair.

It is thought to be the first time that an independent family-run retail butchers has pulled off such a meaty coup, which represented a joint outlay running well into five figures.

Pictured outside Kitsons Butchers’ Northallerton shop with all three Winter Fair supreme champions’ trophies are, from left, Oliver Kitson, shop manager Martin Calvert and Anthony Kitson.

Pictured outside Kitsons Butchers’ Northallerton shop with all three Winter Fair supreme champions’ trophies are, from left, Oliver Kitson, shop manager Martin Calvert and Anthony Kitson.

The title-winning trio are currently being fully matured to maximise both taste and texture in readiness for the keynote Christmas trade at Kitsons Butchers’ three shops in High Street, Northallerton, Stephenson Way, Stockton-on-Tees, and North End, Hutton Rudby.

“Our customers in North Yorkshire and Cleveland are in for a real treat. We always try to offer them the best prime quality meat that money can buy at all times of the year, much of it sourced locally, but I wanted to do something really special for Christmas this year by personally attending the country’s flagship festive primestock shows,” explained Mr Kitson

“In fact, I went with the express intension of securing all three supreme champions. We pulled it off and we’re proud to shout about it. We have some of the very best beef in Britain in our three shops – from mouth-watering Christmas roasts, through to sizzling steaks and all the other popular cuts.

“Absolutely nothing will go to waste and, importantly, we’ll be selling this great British beef at our normal prices. We may well have gone a bit crackers to beef up our Christmas this year, but our customers certainly won’t be paying extra for privilege of eating it!” stressed Mr Kitson.

He put in many hundreds of miles as he travelled the length and breadth of the country late last month to pull off a unique hat-trick when securing the Winter Fairs supreme champions.

The journey began at the English Winter Fair in Staffordshire, where Mr Kitson bought the title-winning Limousin-sired heifer from Worcestershire breeder James May, of Bromsgrove. It had earlier become commercial champion at Kington Show and also finished first in class at the East of England Smithfield Festival at Peterborough.

The heifer was described by English Winter Fair judges as “superb, clean, with no waste and that extra bit of style and class that Limousins are renowned for.”

Less than a week later, Mr Kitson was at the Scottish Winter Fair at LiveScot in Lanark, where he claimed the supreme champion Charolais-cross home-bred heifer from Perthshire’s Wilson Peters, of Cuilt, near Crieff.

Two days later, Mr Kitson hit the road again, hot-footing it down to the Royal Welsh Fair in Builth Wells to claim their overall supreme champion, a Limousin-sired steer shown by Scottish breeders Blair Duffton and Rebecca Stewart, from Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

Judges noted: “The steer was an outstanding champion. He was just full of meat, very correct in every way and just carried so much presence and style.”

The Christmas trade has, in fact, already started for Kitsons Butchers and Mr Kitson has ensured that his customers won’t go short of beef over the festive season and well into the New Year, as he has purchased no less than 116 first-rate prime cattle, the Winter Fair principals among them, at primestock shows and sales from across the country.

“We hang our beef from three to four weeks. It’s like a fine Burgundy wine – it gets better with age, though the secret is to know exactly the right time to serve up specific cuts,” explained Mr Kitson.

Kitsons Butchers is one of the north’s longest established butchers, with roots stretching as far back as 1693 to Batley in West Yorkshire and across many generations. Relocating to the north-east, the family first took over a butcher’s shop in Stockton-on-Tees shop in 1903, with Hutton Rudby following some years later. The Northallerton shop is a more recent addition to the Kitsons’ fold, opening five years ago a stone’s throw from the town’s auction mart. It is managed by Martin Calvert, who has worked for Kitsons for 25 years.

Kitsons Butchers remains a family-run business, with Anthony Kitson at the helm, supported by his mother, Thelma, who still runs the books aged 71, two sons, Henry, aged 25, 24-year-old Oliver, and sister Beverley, the pie-maker in chief. Even Mr Kitson’s six-year daughter Ruby gets stuck in. “She’s our chief taster in charge of quality control!” said Mr Kitson.

As Kitsons Butchers celebrates making history with its landmark triple UK supreme champion beef coup, Mr Kitson also announced that the business is about to undergo one of the most important stages of development in its own long and proud history.

It is being rebranded as Kitson & Sons Butchers, as his two sons, both university graduates, take a more hands-on involvement in the day-to-day running of the expanding operation.

He also unveiled exciting new plans to open a brand-new food hall at Crathorne, near Yarm, adjoining the A19, one of the north’s key arteries – “by far the biggest lifetime investment we have ever made,” according to Mr Kitson

Work on the conversion of an existing quadrant farm building has just started and the new multi-purpose development – other on-site facilities will also include a cafe/restaurant – is due to open in the middle of next year. It represents a multi-million pound investment and is expected to create up to 30 new jobs. “The diggers are in,” added Mr Kitson.

Moule Media

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