Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Business Awards celebrates exciting, diverse and dynamic retail industry for NI

Thales Group employees pictured at last year’s BT Business Awards
Thales Group employees pictured at last year’s BT Business Awards

By Glyn Roberts

Retail NI is once again pleased to support this year's Belfast Telegraph Business Awards, particularly its new category of Retailer of the Year.

Retail NI is a growing business group with over 1,700 members including retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to our sector. We are all about championing independent retailers and ensuring their voice is heard at every level of government. Our membership is also open to businesses that want to supply goods and services to our sector and wish to build new trading relationships with them.

This new category of Retailer of the Year is welcome because it recognises the huge contribution retail provides to the Northern Ireland economy.

The retail industry remains one of Northern Ireland's largest private sector employers, providing a living to around 83,000 people. Thousands more jobs are created and sustained by the grocery sector's engagement with the agri-food supply chain in Northern Ireland, from farmers to processors, as well as in the wider retail sector, including store fit-out firms and local suppliers

A growing, vibrant retail sector is essential in leading the charge towards a new private sector-led Northern Ireland economy.

One in every eight households includes someone who works in retail, many of them taking advantage of part-time and flexible working opportunities which enable them to combine work with parenting or caring responsibilities, studying or perhaps cutting back on working hours as they prepare for retirement.

Retail is an exciting, diverse and dynamic industry, continuously adapting to transformational change as a result of changes in shopping habits, new technology, intense competition, falling shop prices and rising costs. Retail itself is also a changing industry. Retailers are the most directly customer-facing of all businesses, and as customer behaviour changes, so too do retailers.

To survive and thrive in 21st century retail is a constant process of change and modernisation - indeed the only constant within our sector is change.

While the Retailer of the Year award is open to all retailers, we particularly want to see local independent retailers making a special effort to enter. We have some fantastic examples of local independent retailers who are at the cutting edge of innovation and entrepreneurship.

As Steve Jobs rightly said, "innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower".

Retail NI members are proud of their support of local producers, town centres and their role at the heart of their local community. 70p in every pound that is spent with a local independent retailer is recycled around the economy, supporting local producers, farmers and the high street as a whole.

Our members are community entrepreneurs - they connect people, business and investment, and they are the change-makers in our developing high streets.

An integral element of the criteria of the Retailer of the Year is how the applicant can clearly demonstrate their support to local producers and community engagement. The successful applicant will have to provide evidence of gold standard customer service and how they go the extra mile for their shoppers.

We look forward to seeing a quality high-level number of entries to this new category.

Glyn Roberts is chief executive of Retail NI

How to enter for this year’s event

  • Full details on categories and criteria and how to enter are available at www.belfast

  • The closing date for entries is Thursday, March 8, at noon

  • The gala awards dinner takes place on Thursday, April 26, at the Crowne Plaza, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast

  • A table of 10 costs £1,400 plus Vat, while individual places are available at £150 plus Vat#

  • To book, please contact Karen McGarvey at Belfast Telegraph on, tel: 028 9026 4345 or

  • Award categories

    1. Excellence in Marketing

    2. Excellence in Exporting

    3. Excellence in the Development of Management and Leadership

    4. Excellence in Innovation

    5. Best Use of Digital and/or Social Media

    6. Young Businessperson of the Year

    7. IT Company or Team of the Year

    8. Retailer of the Year

    9. Excellence in Workplace Health and Well-being

    10. Best Established Small/Medium Business

    11. Emerging Business/Start up of the Year

    12. Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility

    13. SME Healthcare Business of Year

    Two special judges' awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award and Overall Business of the Year sponsored by Ulster Bank, will also be awarded