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    Northern Ireland independent retailers to be honoured

    (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Northern Ireland public is being encouraged to vote for their favourite local independent retailer and high street in the High Street Hero Awards which have been launched for 2024 at Parliament Buildings by Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald MLA.

    Voting for High Street Heroes 2024 will run from July 1 to July 31.

    Independent retailers’ body Retail NI states, “It is the perfect opportunity to recognise those independent retailers who are going above and beyond to serve the community and ensure that the local high street is still a thriving place to shop and socialise.

    “Whether your High Street Hero is your favourite butcher, baker, or barista, they will all be celebrated in this showcase of the brilliant work of independent retailers.”

    Votes can be cast across 13 different categories with shoppers and customers asked to name their favourite convenience store, deli, butcher, off licence, among others.

    A record 12,000 votes were cast last year to determine who was crowned Northern Ireland’s retail elite last year. The Co Antrim town of Ballymoney was named High Street of The Year for 2023 in a tight race with Belfast’s Shankill Road and Newtownards.

    Launching the awards for 2024, Paddy Doody, Vice Chair Retail NI, said, Independent retail is the lifeblood of communities right across Northern Ireland and our annual High Street Heroes NI campaign represents the biggest celebration of our thriving local retail sector. Our awards are different – they are a public vote, with no judges and it is local consumers deciding who wins”

    “We’re gearing up for another huge showcase event and a massive celebration of the individual businesses who are the beating heart of our many villages, towns and cities”

    “The awards are open to local retailers right across Northern Ireland – Portaferry to Pomeroy, Newry to Newtownabbey and Strabane to Scarva and will identify those local independent retailers who are taking a lead. Whether it’s a local butcher that’s a cut above the rest or fashion retailer with exceptional style, it’s time to vote for your favourite now.”

    Speaking at the Launch of the Awards, Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald MLA said, Independent retailers play a crucial role in their communities, supporting jobs and boosting the local economy and keeping high streets in their towns, village and cities vibrant. I congratulate Retail NI on this excellent initiative to promote traders who are the heart of their communities and I encourage members of the public to nominate and vote for their local high street heroes.”

    The hugely successful High Street Hero NI awards is a joint initiative powered by Retail NI and supported National Lottery operator Allwyn, SSE Airtricity and Roam Local NI.

    Allwyn’s Chief Executive Officer, Andria Vidler, said, “We’re delighted to be supporting High Street Heroes NI – highlighting, recognising and celebrating the huge contribution that independent retailers make to local high streets across Northern Ireland. Independent retail is, quite simply, the lifeblood of our local communities. And our 40,000+ retail partners who sell The National Lottery in their stores make a vital difference in helping raise an average of £4 million every day for National Lottery-funded projects”

    “So, it means a great deal to me and everyone at Allwyn to be able to acknowledge all the hard work, passion and perseverance shown by every store. We wish every retailer the very best of luck and look forward to celebrating both the winners and nominees.”

    Andrew Greer, General Manager of SSE Airtricity Northern Ireland said, For us at SSE Airtricity, supporting local communities is cornerstone to our mission. Retail NI’s annual High Street Hero awards set a benchmark of excellence, celebrating the businesses and individuals who go above and beyond to serve their communities. We are delighted to be involved in this initiative”

    “With over 300,000 domestic and business customers across Northern Ireland, our commitment to supporting local is important. Recently, SSE Airtricity launched a €5million all-island Generation Green Community Fund with the aim of delivering meaningful community benefits. We encourage everyone to get nominating and look forward to showcasing the best that Northern Ireland has to offer on the high street.”

    Andrew Bartlett, Founder of Roam Local NI said, “Roam Local NI is delighted to support the High Street Heroes campaign for 2024. Celebrating local business is what we are all about, as showcasing the finest in independent retail means that everyone can avail of the best that Northern Ireland has to offer, the local high streets are kept thriving with footfall and people can make the most of the unique offerings and best deals on their doorstep.”

    The 13 High Street Hero Award categories are:

    • Best Butcher
    • Best Coffee Shop
    • Best Convenience Store
    • Best Deli/Bakery
    • Best Fashion Retailer
    • Best Forecourt
    • Best Generalist Retailer
    • Best Healthcare Retailer
    • High Street of the Year
    • Best Homeware Retailer
    • Best Off Licence
    • Best independent retailer employee
    • Overall Independent Retailer

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