Milestone scores hat-trick at major industry awards

Returning champion Milestone NisaExtra Rathfriland has been named the overall winner at the recent Neighbourhood Retailer Awards, picking up three awards including the Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year prize.

Hosted by household names, Pamela Ballantine and Stephen Clements, the 2017 awards, held in association with RiverRidge, saw almost 500 of Northern Ireland’s best retailers descend on the Crowne Plaza in Belfast on the evening of Friday, 20 October.

Hosts broadcaster Pamela Ballantine and Q Radio DJ Stephen Clements having fun during the ceremony

As well as the coveted overall prize, Milestone Rathfriland took home the prestigious Deli of the Year trophy for their dedication to providing exceptional quality and affordable food-to-go. They were also pronounced top in their field as Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year Category 4.

The retail sector is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest, employing over 70,000 workers and buying some £7 billion of local agri-food stocks. Retailers pay over £1 billion in rates and invest heavily in their businesses, generating a wealth of activity for the local economy.

It’s a contribution honoured annually by the biggest awards for the sector, the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards. The awards, which next year celebrate their 20th anniversary, are the industry benchmark for excellence in the local sector, driving innovation and competition among NI’s best independent retailers.

The 2017 awards saw the return of the innovative Community Store of the Year category, back by popular demand for the second year running. Unlike many other industry awards, this category is decided by public vote.

The Co-Op Food Oldpark Road emerged as winner of this inventive award, which is sponsored by Q Radio and involves an active social media campaign and live outside broadcasts from each site, highlighting each store’s contribution to the local community.

Also receiving an important award on the night was founder of the SHS Group Joe Sloan who was recognised for his commitment and passion to the NI sector as the recipient of 2017’s highly-sought-after Lifetime Achievement accolade.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, SHS Group founder Joe Sloan with (left) category sponsor and CEO of RiverRidge Brett Ross and (right) model Meagan Green

Speaking to Neighbourhood Retailer on the night, Joe said: “It’s a great privilege to receive an award from an industry that I have been involved in for almost 50 years. I’ve had a fantastic time celebrating with my family and colleagues from SHS this evening.”

Commenting at the event, organiser and publisher of Neighbourhood Retailer, Bill Penton, said: “2017 has been a fantastic year for the Neighbourhood Retailer brand and the gala awards have been incredibly successful. We are especially grateful to all of our sponsors for their continued support and would like to extend a special thanks to our overall sponsor RiverRidge.

“Congratulations to Tom McAvoy and all the team at Milestone Nisa Extra, Rathfriland which was named overall winner on the night. Having been recognised as Retailer of the Year twice before, Milestone Nisa Extra continues to impress the panel of judges with its winning formula and we are delighted to welcome back this incredible store as our 2017 winner.

“I would also like to congratulate Joe Sloan who received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the most influential names in the industry, Joe Sloan has been synonymous with success for the past four decades. Joe really is the Richard Branson of Northern Ireland and I can’t think of a more worthy winner.”

Full List of Winners in the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards 2017

Retailer of the Year 2017

Milestone NisaExtra Rathfriland

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Joe Sloan, SHS Group

Store Manager of the Year

Stephen McMahon, Coop Food Oldpark Road

Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year Category 1

DSP Vivo, Churchtown

Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year Category 2

SPAR, Culmore

Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year Category 3

Creightons of Balmoral, Belfast

Neighbourhood Retailer of the Year Category 4

MIlestone Nisaextra, Rathfriland

Forecourt of the Year Category 1

Travellers’ Rest, Strabane

Forecourt of the Year Category 2

MAXOL SPAR, Tannaghmore

Community Store of the Year

The Co-op Food, Oldpark Road

CTN of the Year

Centra Lisburn Rd, Belfast

Off-Licence of the Year

Emerson’s Of Armagh

Bakery of the Year

Donnelly’s Bakery and Coffee Shop, Ballycastle

Butcher of the Year

McAtamney’s Butchers, Limavady

Newcomer of the Year

SuperValu Dublin Road, Newry

Deli of the Year

The MIlestone Nisaextra, Rathfriland

Best Customer Service

Eurospar Knockchree, Kilkeel