THE search is on for the best businesses in Stockton.
The borough’s first Town Centre Business Awards will see shops and eateries in town centres recognised for their trading excellence.
The panel of expert judges includes North-east retail expert Christine Kavanagh, who fronts the Retail Skills Shops which deliver Mary Portas Retail Master classes to businesses, local retail analyst Graham Soult, Leader of Stockton Council Councillor Bob Cook and Stockton Council’s Head of Regeneration and Economic Development Richard Poundford.
The judges will meet in September to consider entries and select the overall winners.
One of them, Christine Kavanagh, who fronts the Retail Skills Shops which deliver Mary Portas Retail Master classes to businesses, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Stockton Borough’s town centre businesses to show they are among the very best.
“Stockton’s town centres already boast some excellent shops and businesses and it is essential they are nurtured and developed so they continue to make a valuable contribution to the local economy.”
North-east business analyst Graham Soult said: “There are many gems which attract visitors and shoppers from this area and further afield and they deserve our support and to be celebrated.
“I would encourage as many businesses as possible to take part.”
The awards are organised by Stockton Council’s Town Centres Management and will culminate in a ceremony at Stockton Town Hall on Friday September 30.
Six awards are up for grabs and the winners will each receive £250.
One category will be voted for solely by the public, whose votes will determine the winner of “The Consumers’ Town Centre Business of the Year” award.
Leader of Stockton Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “It is important for traders to celebrate their own strengths. It’s quick and simple to apply and I would encourage all traders in all of our town centres to take part.”
Road shows are taking place in Stockton’s town centres this month to encourage shoppers and businesses to join in.
Entry forms are available from libraries across the borough and can be downloaded at www.stockton.gov.uk/businessawards.