The British Independent Retailers Association (bira) has voted London-based housewares chain Lords as the gold winner of its Independent Retail Business of the Year trophy.
Lords received its prize during a ceremony at the bira High Street Conference on May 11. The award was presented by Nigel Wright, operations director of sponsor Stax Trade Centres.
Bira said: “This award recognises innovation and forward-thinking, so businesses need to have something very special to set themselves apart from the rest of the retailers.
“This was a hard-fought award, with many finalists vying from the prize. So hard did the judges find it deciding between the candidates, that a number were recognised with citations.”
The full list of finalists included Advance Performance UK, Aspire Style, Baby Barn, Bodenhams, Goddards of Kings Lynn, Jones and Cocks, Lords, Potters of Hockley, Prezola, Scarecrow Boutique, Smith and Smith, and The House of Ashley Peake.
Bira described Lords as a family-owned independent business that has been a specialist housewares retailer since 2010 and has expanded to six locations. “They pride themselves on being a local business for local customers, providing a level of service beyond the expectations of their customers,” bira said.
“Their instore offering is supported by an online presence with an extensive range. Their dedication to storytelling in their displays, merchandising and marketing is innovative and impactful and creates unique engagement with their customers.”
Lords brand director Rita Dewan commented: “It is a huge honour to be recognised and more importantly, our team of managers who came to the award ceremony are absolutely thrilled to have won. They are full of renewed energy and thoroughly motivated, as they have seen that their hard work pays off. Our teams are buzzing and this is the best prize!”
The silver winner is fashion boutique chain Aspire Style. Bira described the retailer as “a business set up and owned by childhood friends who have created a lifestyle brand with a focus on vintage styles”. They opened their first boutique in Warwick which has since been joined by stores in Earlsdon, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and Solihull. In 2009 launched their online boutique which has gone “from strength to strength.
“This business has exceptional knowledge and understanding of their target market and really knows who their customers are; tailoring their products and reflecting this in an inspirational shopping experience,” bira said. “They pride themselves on their ‘instore theatre’ with innovative use of store space outside of core opening hours.”
The bronze winner is running & triathlon store Advance Performance UK in Peterborough and Cambridge, which bira described as “an exciting and unusual family-owned business with a strong heritage.
“It has established itself as a destination store with customers travelling from within a 50-mile radius, and often more. Since starting in 1999, the business has seen a growth of 20% year-on-year through its strong teamwork and in-depth understanding of customers,” bira said. “Its success is built on strong, old fashioned values combined with a forward-thinking approach, always thinking outside the box.”
The judging panel also recognised two shops with highly commended awards for their “forward thinking, contribution to the local community and impeccable attention to detail”. Ironmonger Jones & Cocks of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire joined Potters Cookshop of Hockley in Essex in this pairing.
Lords brand director Rita Dewan celebrates with some of the team