ONE of Lincoln's favourite independent shops is to change hands after 20 years in business.
The Whisky Shop, in the Bailgate, is currently owned by Annie and Norman Houghton.
But on Saturday, the couple will lock up for the final time and hand over the keys to the new business owners.
Ownership of the building housing the store, which is leased to The Whisky Shop, will remain with a separate individual.
Mr and Mrs Houghton will retire, and on Monday Nick Ridout and his wife Cathy, from Ingham, near Lincoln, will open the shop to customers.
The specialist outlet, which sells a range of whiskies, brandies, wines, liquors and other spirits, is popular with both tourists and residents.
And Mr Ridout has assured regulars that the shop will remain largely unchanged, keeping its traditional charm and personal service. Mrs Houghton said she was leaving the growing business in a healthy condition.
She said: "The business has gone from strength to strength over the past 20 years and I'm sure it will continue to grow with the new owners. They're great people."
Mrs Houghton said she had spent time with her husband selecting a suitable successor to run the shop.
She said: "The Bailgate is a special area and it needs the right people.
"It's important that they fit in with the community.
"The Bailgate is like a village within a city. It's what makes Lincoln different.
"I'm going to miss it terribly, the people more than anything."
She said she would now volunteer with Lincoln Business Improvement Group to help support retailers in the city.
Mr Ridout is a retired Army officer and Mrs Ridout is a nurse.
While the couple say they have no plans to make any changes to the business in the near future, Mr Ridout said he would be looking to build on the strong base established by the Houghtons.
He said: "There's a loyal community of regular visitors, but there is also a lot of passing trade. We're not going to make any massive changes."
Mr Ridout said he would eventually like to grow the online side of the business.
He said: "It's a very well established growing business and I'm confident we can keep it going and expand on the areas that Annie and Norman haven't had the time to develop.
"We want to keep it a specialist shop, we're not in the business of competing with the High Street.
"We know we have a loyal a customer base and we look forward to seeing them in the shop."