At the recent ARA Retail Awards gala dinner more than 40 finalists across 10 award categories competed for the nation’s most prestigious industry awards.

National marketing director Richard Vines commended all finalists in this year’s awards. “The 2007 finalists were highly impressive and they are all winners in their own right. New South Wales should be immensely proud of the quality and talent of our retailers who not only contribute to the wealth of our economy, but indeed make shopping an exciting activity.

“The association plays an important role in supporting and building the retail sector and the awards program plays a big part in raising industry standards.”

Sydney-based Andrew Morley received the ARA 2007 Young Retailer of the Year Award. Morley, a merchandise planner at the Best & Less head office in Leichhardt, also received the Young Retailer of the Year Corporate Business Award.

The Regional Business Award was presented to Kristie Bartlett of The Reject Shop, while Jenny Wong of Louis Vuitton in CBD, Sydney took out the Small/Medium category. Melinda Byrnes of Fantastic Furniture received the Large Business Award. Jaida Turnbull of Best & Less was awarded the ARA 2007 Trainee of the Year Award.

Louis Vuitton Australia was awarded the ARA 2007 Staff Development Business Training Award for their commitment to developing innovative training strategies to provide every opportunity for staff to achieve their personal best.

Sunlite City Hardware, renowned for its fast, friendly and knowledgeable service, was named ARA 2007 Colonial First State Property Management Retailer of the Year.

George Karabatsos, head of retail operations at Colonial First State Property Management believes these awards are essential. “Retailers are an integral part of our economy and we should all share a stake in the pursuit of retail excellence and the success it delivers,” says Karabatsos.

Sunlite City Hardware also received Boutique Retailer of the Year. Crabtree & Evelyn received Retail Brand of the Year. Retail Store of the Year was awarded to Pumpkin Patch. Barry Hill from Maitland New South Wales was awarded Retail Franchisee of the Year. The NSW President’s Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement and contribution to the Retail Industry was awarded to Stephen Heath, CEO of Rebel Australia.