The results are in – 128,520 votes have been cast in Preston BID’s ‘Smiles Better Awards’, which recognise outstanding businesses and people in Preston city centre.
The awards, sponsored by Fishergate Shopping Centre and St. George’s Shopping centre, highlight the achievements of owners and employees of city centre businesses, and this year attracted more than 165 nominations from 142 businesses.
There are fifteen prizes up for grabs, including Independent Retailer of the Year, Multiple Retailer of the Year, Customer Service Champion and Restaurant of the Year.
Selected categories will now undergo mystery shopping visits, in order to find the outright winners.
The highest award, ‘the Special Recognition Award’ which cannot be voted for, will be awarded to someone who’s made a significant contribution to the city.
Last year the honour went to Friargate florist, Margaret Mason, who has operated a business in Preston for almost fifty-five years.
Upon winning the special recognition awards, Margaret, who was visibly moved said: ‘I am speechless, I didn’t expect to win but I am thrilled. It’s a team effort and I thank all my team for all their hard work, it’s a lovely thing to have been awarded and I am very, very grateful’.
Mark Whittle, from Preston BID which organises the competition said: ‘The businesses in Preston city centre consistently offer outstanding service, and the ‘Smiles Better’ awards are our way honouring these people and organisations. It’s their efforts that keep people returning to our city centre time and time again, and for that, we thank them’.
Keith Mitchell, manager of the Fishergate Shopping Centre, said: “The large amount of votes cast is a tribute to all the great customer-focused work being carried out by staff in Preston’s shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.
“This positive response to the awards from the general public again highlights Preston’s growing and deserved reputation as a vibrant shopping and visitor destination that delivers fantastic levels of service.
“We’re very pleased to be backing this initiative which shows why Preston really is Smiles Better and recognises and rewards those people whose efforts make our city centre the special place it is.”
General manager at St George’s Shopping Centre, Andrew Stringer, said: “The Smiles Better Awards are a great way to recognise the hard work and efforts of the city’s customer services teams.
“The amount of votes cast reflects the exceptional service these teams deliver. Everyone who has been nominated does an excellent job in promoting Preston – we couldn’t operate without them.”
The prizes will be handed out at an invitation only ceremony on Tuesday 21st June, hosted by Radio Lancashire’s John Gillmore and Danny Bee.
For a full list of finalists, see Tuesday’s Evening Post business supplement.