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The aim is to celebrate and praise the entrepreneurial spirit, dedication and hard work of those involved in running and managing a successful independent business, as well as recognise the loyalty and dedication of the staff that work in this sector.
There are 10 honours up for grabs this year, with nominations called for in 9 categories - and all the finalists going through to a public vote for the prestigious 'The People's Favourite Independent Retailer' crown.
The awards, originally commissioned by the Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence, are being led by Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with the council.
Councillor Lawrence said: "Small businesses are the core of any city and it's those small businesses that give us our distinctiveness.
"The independent retail sector in Wolverhampton is really strong. These businesses are very important to us, they work incredibly hard and contribute a huge amount to the local economy.
"They are what the WIRE Awards are all about and we aim to rightfully recognise them.
"The inaugural awards last year were an outstanding success which has led to this becoming an annual event in the calendar."
John Henn, Chair of Wolverhampton BID, added: "A city is judged by - amongst other things - its independent businesses. In its second year the WIRE awards will be looking to continue to uncover our city centre's diverse variety of stores not found anywhere else in the country.
"Run by determined, committed owners and staffed by Wolverhampton's finest, we want you to tell us about your business.
"Wolverhampton is becoming 'the place to invest'. Let's make it the only place by shouting about the great diversity and quality of retailers we have. Please enter the WIRE awards and let us recognise and promote your story."
Recognised by Revo - formally known as British Retail Council - as an example of best practice, the WIRE Awards 2017 created 12 winning businesses including Rudell the Jewellers, who scooped 2 awards including the headline 'Retailer of the Year' honour and 'Excellence in Staff Development', and Batteries Not Included, who won 'Our Favourite Retailer of the Year' as voted for by the public.
The finalists from a wide range of businesses included a market trader, 7 food and beverage outlets, 2 hotels, 4 gifts/crafts/toys retailers, 2 jewellers, 2 fashion outlets, 5 hair and beauty salons, 2 florists/garden suppliers and 1 furniture business.
The other categories this year are Independent of the Year, Excellence in Customer Service, Best Dressed Retail Store, Best Presented Premises, Excellence in Team Development, Hospitality & Leisure Business of the Year, Community Contributor of the Year, Employee of the Year and Independent Employer of the Year.
The awards are open to independent retailers from across the city, provided their billing authority for business rates is City of Wolverhampton Council.
Entries to the WIRE Awards can be made at Type=links;Linkid=8071;Title=WIRE Awards 2018;Target=_blank;.
The closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday 29 April and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 July.
- released: Wednesday 14 March, 2018