675 stylish invited guests from all areas of Birmingham retail life descended on the 2nd city on Thursday for the much-anticipated inaugural Retail Birmingham Awards. These took place at the historic Town Hall, which had been transformed into a stunning, neon lit modern venue complete with large screens and fabulous lights.
The atmosphere before the awards started was electric. There was a buzz of vibrant excitement, as guests enjoyed the fabulous champagne reception laid on by Harvey Nichols. Inside the auditorium, there were cute goodie bags by Mr Simms the Sweet Shoppe that contained popcorn and Old school sweeties, as well as Birmingham style guides and the latest copy of Draper’s Magazine.
The show got off to an amazing start with the gorgeous voices of Only Men Aloud, before presenter Suzanne Virdee took to the stage. She looked absolutely stunning in an elegant black evening dress with a chiffon train. This was teamed with an elaborate choker. She introduced the new chair of Retail Birmingham, Johnathan Cheetham, to the audience. He made a great speech about the retail environment in Birmingham and was cheered loudly when he made the comment ‘I have never seen so many stylish people in such a confined space..’
The awards were voted for by the people of Birmingham through the Style Birmingham site, and as such, are really important in showing the buying opinions of the general public. ‘All Saints’ won the first award, for Best Fashion Retailer -Menswear, and representatives collected awards to the sound of Jessie J’s ‘Do it like a Dude’. The footwear retailer of the year went to the traditional with a twist Clarks, who beat Kurt Geiger, Dune and Schuh for the coveted award.
Accessorize was a popular choice for Jewellery and Accessories retailer of the year. Whilst the hair Salon award went to the stylish team from Toni and Guy. Harvey Nichols was the Fashion Retailer womenswear winner, whilst Forever 21 won best new store for it flagship Birmingham branch – the first to open in the UK. The Bullring won the prestigious award for best shopping destination, whilst the Iconic department store Selfridges won Best department store.
There were special guests to present awards. Birmingham girl Jamelia looked beautiful in a black strappy cocktail dress and sleek shorter haircut. Foxy and Giuliano from BRMB’S breakfast show presented a couple of awards, and also introduced hot new girl band Parade to the audience, who entertained with a great cover of Cee Lo’s Forget You, as well as their new song Louder, currently featured on the latest Rimmel advert. ‘Only Men Aloud’ returned to set female temperatures soaring with renditions of ‘Angels’ and ‘Don’t rain on my parade.’ There were also appearances by ITV’S Lucy Kite, who presented a fascinating celebration of Independent Birmingham Retailers, and retail bible Retail Week ‘s editor Tim Danaher, who had high praise for the rejuvenation of the city.
A fabulous night was enjoyed by all. Special congratulations must go to all those nominated in each category, with a special shout out to all the winners. Retail Birmingham put on a pretty fantastic night and I was glad to be part of it.