Contestants and sponsors illustrated the variety on offer within the city centre business community, ranging from big businesses to small independent traders and from leaders in the latest technology to organisations dating back hundreds of years.
The setting for the event stood as a symbol of Hull’s transformation, with Hull Minster dating back more than 700 years and now established as a leading venue for social and corporate functions.
Kathryn Shillito, HullBID Executive Director, said the awards have come a long way since they were launched, and she highlighted the buoyancy which inspires confidence for the future.
She said: “We set out on our journey six years ago to recognise and reward our BID members and the Biddies, as we fondly call them, were born with a sandwiches and crisps get-together. Now we’re here with a black-tie dinner and 240 guests. Quite amazing!”
Kathryn spoke of the challenges which HullBID and its city centre partners have faced since she joined the organisation 10 years ago as Operations Manager, and of the united approach which has bucked the national trend in terms of some key indicators.
She said: “We are already witnessing a steady increase in footfall with the number of empty units decreasing. Investors need to know the city is a good option and the BID continues dialogue with developers and property landlords to portray everything that is good about Hull.”
Kathryn revealed that business rates revaluations and the conversion of commercial space into residential accommodation have been major factors behind a reduction of 30 per cent in HullBID’s levy income since 2015, but in response BID has generated 40 per cent additional income through its innovative approach to securing grants and event sponsorship.
She said: “That amount is increasing. We don’t take it lightly that you have entrusted us to spend your hard-earned money. Times are tough for businesses and we need to make a difference. Funds that are reinvested make the city centre a safer, cleaner, more vibrant place.”
Kathryn highlighted the work of the HullBID team, striving to make the city centre streets safer and more secure, taking a hands-on approach to remove graffiti and unpleasant waste, liaising with businesses to identify and meet their specific needs and delivering a programme of events which informs, entertains and attracts thousands of people into the city centre.
Partnerships with Hull City Council and Humberside Police are long and productive. A networking lunch hosted by HullBID for the Young Professionals’ Network signals the work being done to attract young talent to Hull, and to keep it. An alliance with the Bonus Arena will see the best of Hull’s independent beauty and fashion retailers support their Beauty Expo in September.
Kathryn said: “The aim of the HullBID team is simple – to support businesses and improve the trading environment.”
She added that the achievements of city centre businesses were reflected in the “unprecedented numbers” of nominations across all 10 awards categories and the acknowledgment of the independent judges that the standard was higher than ever.
Stuf, a technology and gadget sales and repairs business which has moved three times in South Street, starting with the smallest premises and now occupying the largest, won the Best Business Progression Award sponsored by Princes Quay.
Tapasya @ Marina Indian restaurant won the Commitment to Training and Development Award sponsored by Kingston Recruitment in recognition of their investment in new employees.
Special Stars Foundation, which puts on a wide range of inclusive and accessible activates with the aim of reducing social isolation, won the Contribution to the Community Award sponsored by Hull Minster.
Iconic joke shop Dinsdale’s, which is based in Hepworth’s Arcade and has been putting smiles on faces for 85 years, was the winner of the Customer Service Excellence Award sponsored by the Hull Daily Mail.
Paragon Arcade was recognised as owners Allenby Commercial picked up the Dressed to Impress Award, sponsored by Hull College, for their renovation of the Victorian units and for their regeneration of other key city centre buildings including Hideout Hotel and Danish Buildings.
The Innovative Marketing Award sponsored by 360 Chartered Accountants went to the Bonus Arena for its activities in promoting the venue and events since opening last summer.
Leanne Barry, who works at the Venue Café in Hull Central Library, won the Outstanding Employee Award sponsored by APCOA Parking after judges heard how she is even learning new languages to support her customers.
The Civic 1 CCTV team won the Safe City Award sponsored by Radphone for their role in enabling people to feel and stay safe in the city centre.
The Best in Food and Drink Award sponsored by Saunts Parties and Events went to Atom Brewing Co @ The Corn Exchange, which stocks more than 200 beers to complement food made on the premises.
The Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by St Stephen’s Shopping Centre was presented to B. Cooke and Son, which was established more than 150 years ago and provides navigational charts and publications for shipping across the globe in paper and digital form, as well as selling and repairing clocks, compasses and barometers.
Paul Green, co-founder of Stuf, said: “It’s nice to be recognised, especially amongst our peers. We are a BID business and we have been to every awards ceremony. This year they raised the bar again and we were happy enough to be nominated in a very strong category. When our name appeared on the screen we just thought: ‘Wow!’”.
Mukesh Tirkoti, Managing Director of Tapasya @ Marina, said: “We have always worked very hard on the training and development of our team and we are very, very pleased that we have been recognised in the HullBID Awards.
“There are many fantastic businesses in the HullBID area and the competition was very strong.”
Best Business Progression Award (sponsored by Princes Quay): Stuf
Commitment to Training and Development (sponsored by Kingston Recruitment): Tapasya @ Marina
Contribution to the Community Award (sponsored by Hull Minster): Special Stars Foundation
Customer Service Excellence Award (supported by the Hull Daily Mail): Dinsdales
Dressed to Impress Award (sponsored by Hull College): Allenby Commercial
Innovative Marketing Award (sponsored by 360 Chartered Accountants): Bonus Arena
Outstanding Contribution Award (sponsored by St Stephens): B. Cooke & Sons
Outstanding Employee/s Award (sponsored by APCOA Parking): Leanne Barry, Venue Cafe
Safe City Award (sponsored by Radphone): Civic 1 CCTV
The Best in Food and Drink Award (sponsored by Saunts): Atom Brewing Co