The Wakefield District Retail Awards will recognise the best of what our city has to offer as a fabulous shopping destination.
Nominations are already coming in for the 11 categories, which offer something for everyone, from large, multinational stores to small, independent businesses.
The scheme - which is sponsored by Ridings Shopping Centre, Wakefield City Centre Partnership and Trinity Walk - will culminate in a three-course meal and awards event at Unity Works on Saturday, May 16.
The ceremony will be hosted by celebrity florist Carl Wilde.
The judges are, Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, former apprentice finalist Claire Young and Express editor Hannah Thaxter.
We caught up with Coun Box.
How important are the Wakefield Retail Awards to the district?
The awards are really important because they recognise the wonderful range of shops and services we have available in the city and the wider district.
Why did you agree to be a judge?
The council has developed an excellent relationship with the private sector and I am keen to encourage the growth of small independent retailers as well as attracting inward investment.
How do shops, venues and stores contribute to the district?
The traditional high street is under threat and we need to look carefully at the future of Wakefield and help create a vibrant shopping experience for residents and visitors. We are lucky because we have a variety of different stores and venues - along with our cultural offerings we attract many different types of shoppers and visitors who contribute to the district as a whole helping to improve our economy.
What is it that you personally like about the retail offering across the Wakefield district?
I try and get out into the city every day and at the weekend enjoy visiting my hometown of Castleford and others throughout the district. I believe in retail therapy and I enjoy the variety of shops we have to offer. I can’t say too much in case Mrs Box reads this! However, I can always find something “essential” to purchase. I enjoy the variety of markets we have throughout the district and the recent Rhubarb Festival in the city was a huge success.
What makes the city a good place to visit as a shopping destination?
The Trinity walk development provides an excellent mix of both retail and eating venues and this, alongside our market, the Ridings and the other smaller independent retailers throughout the city, gives shoppers a wide variety of places to visit. The close proximity to the Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park makes Wakefield an excellent day out.
What will the judges be looking for in the entries and candidates?
I will be looking for a commitment to Wakefield.
Why would you encourage people to enter?
This is a prestigious award and a fantastic achievement to share with colleagues and customers. It shows the commitment that we have as a district in providing excellent services to our residents and visitors. Retailers of all sizes can be proud to be part of what we have to offer – plus you get an excellent night out and a 3 course meal!
If you want to join in the celebration of our city’s retail offering, all you need to do is put forward your business for as many of the award categories as you think relevant.
You can also nominate someone else’s shop or employees. Just fill in the nomination form and return it to Gemma Jimmison, Wakefield Express, First Floor Bullring House, 23 Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 3BJ.
Alternatively, visit www.jpeventsnorth.co.uk/wakefield/events/retail-awards-2015 and download the form.
The closing date for nominations is Friday, March 27.
If you would like to be a category sponsor for this prestigious event, email firstname.lastname@example.org