Back by popular demand to the Dorset Business Awards, in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, the Retail Excellence Award sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre is looking to discover and highlight the best examples of work in the county’s retail industry for the second year running.

During its first year the category received some strong entries from independent outlets and this year the award is open to any retailer based in Dorset.  Up against finalists’ Poole-based Beales department store and independent boutique shoe shop Doris and Daisy in Wimborne, Allum & Sidaway in Dorchester was acknowledged for its outstanding retail excellence in 2012.

Through hard work to deliver outstanding customer service, expansion from one to five branches and an investment in designer jewellery collections and desirable brands, Allum & Sidaway scooped the retail title.  Jason Allum says: “We strive for excellence in everything we do and the fact that we won the Award for retail excellence encourages us to use this experience to maintain our standards, continue our hard work, offer our customers an outstanding service and continue our positive growth.   We are fortunate to have happy staff, and we believe content and loyal customers, and hopefully this award encourages new and happy returning customers.”

He adds: “Since winning this award we have recruited three new employees and have introduced new jewellery ranges, including Bering watches, Dower & Hall and an 18ct gold collection from Italy called Cammilli, as well as extending various ranges such as Tanzanite and Thomas Sabo.  We of course invest in our staff through training which ensures retail excellence is delivered.  We have designed bespoke training days and all staff undertake a professional qualification through the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG), of which we are a member.  This is rewarding for them and reassuring and beneficial for our customers.”

The Retail Excellence Award is open to any independent retailers and high street brands based in Dorset with a BH or DT postcode.

Retail Excellence Award checklist

To be in with a chance of winning, companies will need to explain:

  • Sales percentage year on year to date
  • Why the store deserves to win the Retail Excellence Award
  • How sales are monitored
  • How customer service is monitored
  • Marketing strategies to target customers

The judges will be looking for companies showcasing outstanding achievement, innovative business concept, business acumen and excellence in customer service. Shortlisted retailers will be visited by a mystery shopper during early October.

John Grinnell, centre manager of the Dolphin Shopping Centre, Poole, said: “As Dorset’s largest indoor shopping centre, the Dolphin is committed to providing shoppers with an excellent retail offering with a range of national and small independent stores.

“Dorset is a great county for shopping and our Award offers an excellent way to find and celebrate driven, committed and passionate retailers of all sizes in all areas of the sector. We are looking forward to seeing businesses recognised for all their hard work and encourage you to enter.”

The Awards are also backed by the South’s leading radio station Wave 105 and are free to enter.  Entrants can submit an entry via or print off an entry form and submit a paper-based entry. The closing date for entry is Tuesday September 10. Entrants do not need to be a member of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

For further information about the Awards, sponsorship opportunities or to reserve tickets for the Gala Dinner which will take place at the Lighthouse, Poole, on Thursday November 28 please contact Shirley Ewart on 01202 714812.

Sponsor profile – Dolphin Shopping Centre

The Dolphin Shopping Centre attracts an annual footfall of 12.5 million visitors and has more than 140 retailers.

In order to enhance the shopping experience, the Dolphin Centre delivers free seasonal events from family entertainment through to fashion shows and student-targeted events.

The Centre continues to position itself as a responsible and integral part of the Poole community and works with key stakeholders to enhance the profile of Poole through a number of projects, including its recent green campaign, Don’t Drive Wednesdays.