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Wow! What a fantastic end to a wonderful year.

Mark and I attended the Independent Achievers Academy at the end of November with four nominations. We had our fingers crossed that we’d be taking at least one award back to our staff and customers in Hull.

How wrong we were! I’m extremely proud to say we were awarded Responsible Retailing, Staff Development, Marketing to Customers and Overall Best Shop. We were amazed, proud and totally overwhelmed.

coldbecks overall shop award
Mark and Samantha collecting their award for Overall Best Shop from Nick Shanagher (left) and Kevin Threlfall (right) at the 2015 IAA Gala Dinner

We have been working with the IAA for three years now, and in that time we’ve come a long way on our retail journey. The team at IAA organiser Newtrade are passionate about the Academy and their enthusiasm is infectious.

We have made friends with some exceptional retailers, learned a lot from people with years of experience and appreciate the diverse and demanding workload of an independent retailer whether they trade in a sleepy village or a troubled inner city estate.

We have been helped by suppliers who have seen potential in our store and provided planograms, point of sale and great rewards programmes.

The IAA started out to bring independent retailers and suppliers together, to offer help and guidance to retailers who want to improve their business and find new and inventive ways of creating a destination their community can be proud of.

What has developed over the years is the strangest bond between a group of people, who by the nature of retail, should be competitive and aggressive with a dog-eat-dog attitude. Instead, friendships have formed and strengthened, advice and tips flow as freely as the wine and everybody comes away from an IAA event knowing that the independent retailing community is in the same boat, sailing the same sea heading for the same destination.

I would personally like to thank Nick, the team at Newtrade, and everybody else involved in the IAA for another successful Gala Dinner. Here’s to 2016. Best wishes everyone.

Watch the video below to see more from the IAA Gala Dinner and learn more about Samantha’s store here.