Every year, every member of staff at Newtrade, Retail Express’ owner, calls one of the Independent Achievers Academy Top 100 retailers to let them know they have made it into an elite list of fantastic independent stores.

We get to share their excitement and find out, first-hand, how much the recognition means to them, their staff and their business.

When I first joined Newtrade, the first-ever IAA was just coming to an end. The winning retailers knew it was a huge achievement to be recognised for driving excellence in the independent channel.

They’ve gone back to their store, looked at specific areas in detail and devoted time and energy to improving their customer experience

Ten years on, there’s been a great deal of change in convenience retailing and the IAA, but the Top 100 stores have become stronger and stronger.

The retailers we spoke to were overwhelmed at their achievement. They value the benchmarking process and know how much hard work it takes to be shortlisted.

The retailer I spoke to told me the IAA was “the pinnacle” of achievements. He said he and his brother had got the shop to a very high standard before taking part and continued to improve it based on the IAA’s advice.

In this year’s Top 100, there are 16 retailers who took part last year, but failed to make the cut. They’ve gone back to their store, looked at specific areas in detail and devoted time and energy to improving their customer experience.

Find out who made it this year. Perhaps if there’s a shop near you, you could visit them to discover why they’re one of the UK’s Top 100 and benchmark your store against theirs.

Be inspired by the innovative, forward-thinking and creative stores that are helping independent retail stand out in a crowded market.