THE owners of a delicatessen which stocks 2,000 different products have spoken of their surprise after being named Britain’s Best Small Shop.

Former farmers Chris and Christine Garnett said they were left speechless after being handed the accolade for Hunters of Helmsley at a House of Commons ceremony.

The pair said they had been thrilled after being shortlisted for the award, after entering the the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops contest for the first time, and did not expect to contend for the overall title.

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It was only after the contest's organisers repeatedly called them while they were on holiday in Portugal, that they agreed to change flights to attend the ceremony.

Mr Garnett said: "They rang us three times checking whether we would be attending, but we still didn't twig.

"After we announced on social media we had won, it went crazy with people congratulating us and was still going mad at midnight.

"It is a bit of a coup for Yorkshire."

Judges said the 90sq m grade II listed shop in the heart of the North Yorkshire market town, which the pair have run for eight years, stood out from several hundred traders who entered the contest, praising its customer service, use of social media and the internet site and work to boost the local economy.

Andrew Goddard, retail director at contest sponsor PayPoint, said: "Hunters of Helmsley is a fantastic example of a small, family-run shop that’s everything that’s best in retailing, from its support for local producers to the attention given to every detail of the product range, merchandising and commitment to offering customers the best food and drink the world has to offer."

Mr Garnett said casting their net far and wide for unusual, high quality products, being responsive to customers and trends, having an array of good producers nearby and opening 70 hours a week was key to their success.

He said: "We attend trade shows to find something to add to our stock, but our big problem is the shop's size, we are bulging at the seams.

"When a customer asked for pomegranate molasses we spent hours running round and trawling through trade magazines before we eventually found it."

The couple also instigated Helmsley in Business, a group that has 50 members working to promote the town.

Councillor Chris Parkin, chairman of Hemsley Town Council, said: "We are all delighted and it will help raise the profile of the town."