Dressed for Success

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THE INAUGURAL Horsham Unlimited Dressed for Success Retail Awards celebrated the best in shop design in Horsham and its surrounding towns and villages last Thursday evening.

The West Sussex County Times in association with Southern Water was one of a number of award sponsors, including Horsham Unlimited – the town centre business partnership, Metamorphosis – specialist window design consultants, as well as other local media organisations.

The event was the result of a programme initiated by Horsham Unlimited which focussed on promoting the town, running window-dressing training sessions for retailers plus public competitions. The aim was to reward the retail premises that made the most effort to encourage visitors to the town over Christmas using festive decorations, excellent customer service, and partnership working with the local authority and the wider business community.

Children’s shoe shop Raspberry Laces in Piries Place, Horsham won three of the evening’s prizes, including Best Independent Window, the Dressed for Success Best Practice award, as well as the night’s final draw in which the new-comer to the town scooped free training from Metamorphosis.

“We were thrilled to be a part of the awards evening and even happier to be recognised for our Christmas window,” said Sarah Legrove, owner of Raspberry Laces. “We are very pleased to be part of a growing and more unified independent retail community within Horsham, which has to work together with Horsham Unlimited, the Council and external parties like Metamorphosis to make Horsham a destination of choice in what clearly will be a difficult trading year ahead.”

Other winners on the night included Storrington Card Centre, which won the County Times readers’ vote for the best Christmas window in the district; Horsham fashion retailers La Vida and Cape Scarlett; specialist AV shop Aurac in Piries Place; Beales in the Forum; and Sakakini and Katerina Jewellers Gallery, both in the Carfax.

Aside from the awards, the evening provided an opportunity for retailers to come together, network and share best practice. Horsham Unlimited also launched its new ‘Business Support Programme’ supported by Rawlinson Butler, Spofforths, Metamorphosis and Central Sussex College.

The Dressed for Success Retail Awards is now set to become an annual feature in Horsham – part of a three year vision aimed at rebuilding Horsham’s reputation as the best place for shop window displays in the South. Engaging window displays are nothing new for the retailers of Horsham, and town centres manager Garry Mortimer-Cook admitted they are ‘treading in the footsteps of our forefathers’.

To explain, each of the 70 guests was given a commemorative souvenir brochure from Horsham Museum, full of fascinating photographs and historical quotes, charting how 100 years ago the traders of Horsham decided to use window displays as a means of encouraging people to the town. Much of this history can be explored at an exhibition called ‘Horsham’s High Street – a trip down retail heaven’, currently showing at Horsham Museum until April 23.