Ballymoney tops the poll as High Street of the Year after tight race with Belfast’s Shankill Road and Newtownards

A record 12,000 online votes cast to determine Northern Ireland’s retail elite

Ballymoney has taken a top award at this year’s High Street Hero awards, confirming its gold status as High Street of the Year 2023 in a major Northern Ireland online poll.

The hugely successful High Street Hero NI awards is a joint initiative powered by Retail NI and supported by Camelot, Roam, Strategic Power Connect and Belfast Live.

Part of the Causeway Coast and Glens district, in an area best known for its nearby international tourist attraction The Dark Hedges, the thriving Country Antrim town came out on top after taking the lead against runner up and silver winner, Belfast’s Shankill Road, and Newtownards – last year’s joint winner, and the bronze holder for 2023.

Famous for its annual Spring Fair and thriving with a wide range of independent shops, family-run businesses, boutiques cafés and restaurants – and a finalist two years in a row – Ballymoney enjoys a great community spirt in a thriving town centre packed with traditional charm.

Retail NI, which represents the independent retail and wholesale sector in Northern Ireland, first launched the High Street Heroes NI awards in 2020 to recognise and reward local retailers and their impact on local communities – and this year’s event was its most successful yet, with more than 12,000 online votes cast.

“What this year’s High Street Hero awards has shown is that people care passionately about where they live, shop and socialise and they wholeheartedly recognise the importance the role in which independent retailers play in ensuring their town and cities are great places to be around and where communities and the local economy can thrive,” Glyn Roberts, Retail NI’s chief executive said.

The award for overall retail winner this year went to Bradley’s Centra in Maghera in County Londonderry which scooped the gold award ahead of fashion boutique Couples in Coleraine which took silver, with Ballymoney fashion retailer The Winsome Lady taking bronze for 2023.

“Our High Streets are at very heart of every community, bring people together and can be lively, dynamic and social places that build belonging and trust to a community. I’m delighted for the winners this year after a tough competition and grateful to the thousands of people from across Northern Ireland who took part to determine this year’s successful line-up,” Glyn added.

From Londonderry to Lisnaskea and Belfast to Ballymoney, a total of 33 finalists were represented across 13 categories this year, which included first-time winner of Northern Ireland’s ‘Green Retailer’ of the year which was won by NISA Fresh Food Centre in Castlewellan.

Bradley’s Centra in Maghera was one of the biggest winners of the night, taking home three separate awards for Best Convenience Store, Best Deli/Bakery and Best Forecourt – in addition to Overall Retail Winner.

Last year, in a poll of over 10,000 votes, Newtownards and Coleraine were named joint winners of the prestigious High Street of the Year award, trumping Ballymoney’s attempts to take the top prize.

Presenting the High Street of the Year award to Ballymoney Chamber of Commerce, Shadow UK Minister for Levelling Up, Alex Norris, said:

“Representing the dynamism, excitement and positivity of our towns, cities and communities, the High Street Hero awards are an important showcase of excellence which help to shine a spotlight on success, and I’m delighted that Ballymoney has risen to the challenge to take this year’s top award.

“Despite many challenges, those who entered, who were shortlisted and who took home an award, should be proud of their commitment and dedication to serving their customers and communities. Their hard work will never go unnoticed, and I’m delighted the people of Northern Ireland have voted in such amazing numbers to choose their favourites. Well done to everyone involved.”

The High Street Heroes NI Award Winners for 2023 are as follows:

Best Butcher

The Butchers, Monkstown – Gold

Greens of Lisburn – Silver

David Mawhinney & Sons, Bangor – Bronze

Best Coffee Shop

Chat & Chill Café, Lisburn – Gold

Maxemoo, Millisle – Silver

Sugarcane Café Bistro, Comber – Bronze

Best Convenience Store

Bradley’s Centra, Maghera – Gold

Doherty’s Vivo, Londonderry – Silver

Eurospar, Lisnaskea – Bronze

Best Deli/Bakery

Bradley’s Centra, Maghera – Gold

Brownie on the Hill, Dundonald – Silver

The Butcher, Monkstown – Bronze

Best Fashion Retailer

Couples, Coleraine – Gold

The Winsome Lady, Ballymoney – Silver

CItyMan Menswear, Londonderry – Bronze

Best Forecourt

Bradley’s Centra, Maghera – Gold

Spar, Glenarm Road, Larne – Silver

Eurospar Lisnaskea – Bronze

Best Generalist Retailer

NCG, Newtownards – Gold

Finishing Touches Too, Limavady – Silver

Brew & Yaki, Newtownards – Bronze

Best Green Retailer

NISA Fresh Food Centre, Castlewellan – Gold

McRobbie’s Retail, Newtownards – Silver

77 Retail, Belfast – Bronze

Best Healthcare Retailer

Harkin’s Pharmacy, Maghera – Gold

Brogans Eyes & Ears, Lisburn – Silver

Real Health, Coleraine – Bronze

Best Homeware Retailer

W&J Walker, Ballymoney – Gold

Wardens, Newtownards – Silver

Amour Flooring, Bangor – Bronze

Best Off License

Bradley’s Centra, Maghera – Gold

McBrides on the Square, Comber – Silver

Eurospar, Lisnaskea – Bronze

High Street of the Year

Ballymoney – Gold

Shankill Road, Belfast – Silver

Newtownards – Bronze

Overall Independent Retailer of the Year

Bradley’s Centra, Maghera – Gold

Couples, Coleraine – Silver

The Winsome Lady, Ballymoney – Bronze


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