THE 20th annual Dorset Business Awards, in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, is inviting the best of the county’s retail industry to enter the 2014 Retail Experience Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre.

Now in its third year, the Retail Experience Award is open to any retailer in Dorset and will be presented to the company that offers the very best retail experience to its customers as a result of recognising and delivering clear entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and excellence in customer service.

Past winners include Allum & Sidaway in Dorchester and the current title-holder, the Animal store in Poole.

Rachael Tatton, store manager at Animal in Poole, said: “I was delighted and thrilled that we won this award. I’m extremely proud of all my team members past and present, as they work so hard every day and I’m usually the only one to see it. However, to have been acknowledged and rewarded for it by outsiders was such an overwhelming feeling for all of us.”

“Since winning the award, our sales have improved as a result of all the press coverage we received, both in the lead up to the event and in the aftermath. We’ve also recruited four new staff members and introduced some new products for 2014. I’d encourage other retailers to enter the Dorset Business Awards as it’s a great way to show your team how proud you are of them.”

John Grinnell, centre manager of the Dolphin Shopping Centre, added: “We are really excited to be involved with the Dorset Business Awards during its 20th anniversary year. “We have decided to slightly change the award for 2014 and tailor it towards the shopping experience. We have found this to be key when operating a retail store. The experience has to be right.

“Dorset has a fantastic retail offering and we are looking forward to seeing businesses recognised with an award nomination.”

The Retail Experience Award is open to any independent retailers and high street brands based in Dorset with a BH or DT postcode.

To be in with a chance of winning, companies will need to explain: n How service levels are monitored n How customer service is monitored n What training they give staff n Why the store deserves to win the Retail Experience Award The Awards are also by radio station Wave 105 and are free to enter. Entrants can submit an entry via dorsetbusinessawards. or print off an entry form and submit a paper-based entry.

The closing date for entry is Friday, September 12. Entrants do not need to be a member of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

For further information about the awards, sponsorship oppor-tunities or to reserve tickets for the Gala Dinner, which will take place at the Bournemouth International Centre on Thursday, November 27, contact Shirley Ewart on 01202 714812.

Dolphin Centre Profile

The Dolphin Shopping Centre in Poole is the largest indoor shopping centre in Dorset.

It attracts an annual footfall of more than 11 million people and is anchored by Marks & Spencer, BHS, Primark and Beales.

There are more than 140 other retailers – including national stores such as Next, New Look, Topshop, River Island, Boots, Clarks, Wilkinsons and Argos – based in the centre.

In order to enhance the shopping experience, the centre delivers free seasonal events from family entertainment through to fashion shows and student-targeted events.