Businesses from across Chester city centre came together for a prestigious awards ceremony at The Chester Grosvenor Hotel as the winners of the 2018 CH1ChesterBID Customer Service Awards were revealed.
Recognising shops, restaurants, bars, independent retailers and other businesses that go the extra mile for customers, the awards were introduced by CH1ChesterBID in 2015 shortly after the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) was established.
Nominated by the general public, the city centre favourites were voted for online with 1,500 votes cast. The top three businesses in 15 different categories then received a mystery shopper visit to determine a winner.
More than 150 people attended the awards and among the winners on the night was popular toy shop Build-a-Bear, which picked up the ‘Best Small Retailer’ award for the second year in succession.
Jaunty Goat on Bridge Street also retained its title as ‘Best Coffee Shop’, having won the award in 2017.
Watergate Street Gallery was noted for its customer service in the category, ‘Best Independent Retailer’, beating competition from Chester Market and last year’s winner, Weasel and The Bug.
Marks and Spencer won ‘Best Large Retailer’ and The White Company picked up the accolade for ‘Fashion Small Retailer’.
Newcomer Gino’s Gelato on Northgate Street was recognised as the ‘Best Food on the Go’ business, whilst the ‘Best Hotel/B&B’ award went to The Grosvenor Hotel.
Winning the ‘Best of Grosvenor Shopping Centre’ was the luxury jeweller and jewellery designer, Boodles.
Taxi firm Abbey Taxis won ‘Best Leisure and Lifestyle’ award for the first time and other winners included ethically-sourced cosmetics store The Body Shop in the ‘Health & Beauty Retailers’ category, as well as Inked Up tattoo studio, which picked up the award for ‘Best Health & Beauty Services’.
The ‘Best Restaurant’ Award went to Burger Shed 41, and Barclays was presented with the ‘Best Professional Services’ award for the third consecutive year.
The final award of the night went to Stuart Leutchford from HSBC, who was named ‘Star Employee’ of the year.
The Star Employee is a new category which has been introduced to give businesses the opportunity to put forward employees with exceptional customer service skills, allowing individuals who go the extra mile to be recognised.
More than £550 was raised for Claire House Children’s hospice, through a raffle and a Chester-themed quiz.
Carl Critchlow, BID Manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: “We are very proud of what Chester has to offer visitors and we love hosting these awards, which really give us a chance to recognise the hardworking people and dedicated businesses we have in our city centre.
“The awards were introduced to celebrate the exceptional customer service that is integral to the atmosphere of our city – making people want to return time after time.
“The 15 categories were selected based on what our city has to offer and we aim to represent all of our BID member businesses within these, of which there are almost 500. The categories include independent businesses, large retailers who have more than 20 people working in the store, and small retailers who have less than 20 employees working in the store.
“We think it’s so important to celebrate the fantastic contribution our local businesses and their staff make to Chester city centre every single day. They should all be really proud of their achievements over the past 12 months and our congratulations go to all of this year’s winners.”
The full list of winners and shortlisted businesses was as follows:
Nominated: The Alchemist, The Botanist, Bar Lounge.
Winner: The Alchemist
Best Coffee Shop
Nominated: Jaunty Goat, Mad Hatters Tearoom & Bakery, The Flower Cup
Winner: Jaunty Goat
Nominated: Opera Grill, Atina Kitchen, Burger Shed 41
Winner: Burger Shed 41
Best Food on the Go
Nominated: Gino’s Gelato, Funky Cow Milkshake Bar, Blackstocks
Winner: Gino’s Gelato
Best Small Retailer (less than 20 employees in the Chester store)
Nominated: Hotel Chocolat, Games Workshop, Build-a-Bear Workshop
Winner: Build-a-Bear Workshop
Best Fashion Small Retailer (less than 20 employees in the Chester store)
Nominated: Ann Summers, Accessorize, The White Company
Winner: The White Company
Best Large Retailer (more than 20 employees in the Chester store)
Nominated: Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Wilko
Winner: Marks & Spencer
Best Independent Retailer
Nominated: Chester Market, Watergate Street Gallery, Weasel & The Bug
Winner: Watergate Street Gallery
Best Health & Beauty Services
Nominated: Specsavers, Boots Opticians, Inked Up Chester
Winner: Inked Up Chester
Best Health & Beauty Retailer
Nominated: Lush, The Body Shop, Holland and Barrett
Winner: The Body Shop
Best Leisure & Lifestyle
Nominated: Abbey Taxis, TUI, KingKabs
Winner: Abbey Taxis
Nominated: The Grosvenor, The Pied Bull, The Coach House Inn
Winner: The Grosvenor
Best Professional Services
Nominated: Barclays, HSBC, NatWest
Best of Grosvenor Shopping Centre
Nominated: Castle Fine Art, Jigsaw, Boodles
Winner: Stuart Leutchford – HSBC