Retail’s best and brightest unveiled at the National Retail Awards 2020

After a year of unprecedented challenges the National Retail Association (NRA) has unveiled Australian retail’s best and brightest across an array of categories at a landmark online awards ceremony.

The virtual format, attended by retailers from across the country, included various speakers from across the industry with the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash providing the keynote address.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that COVID-19 had shown how indispensable retailers are to everyday life and it was great to be able to recognise both the winners and finalists who have excelled in 2020.

“NRA members pride themselves on being the face of modern Australian retail and today’s award winners showcase the amazing talent that exists across the sector,” Ms Lamb said.

“Whether it’s in innovation, sustainability, the online market or the sector’s talented individuals, today’s awards demonstrate some of Australian retail’s incredible achievements in a year defined by adversity.”

The Awards were presented across three different categories: Champion Awards, Category Awards and Individual Awards.

The Champion Award winners displayed the cutting-edge work being undertaken in modern Australian retail as well as promote social responsibility, innovation and training.

NRA members span the entire sector and the Category Awards recognise the efforts of retail businesses of all sizes, online and offline in a time of challenge and change.

Australian retail is also blessed with talented individuals who work tirelessly to motivate, inspire and grow their respective businesses. The Individual Awards seek to reward those people who have made such a contribution to retail in 2020.

The event also included a presentation from tech entrepreneur and futurist Steve Sammartino and saw $1,000 worth of gift cards provided by major sponsor Klarna.

Full list of award winners, 2020 Retail Awards:

Champion Awards Categories:

Celebrating businesses who lead the way in innovation, social responsibility and customer experience

Innovation Champion – Lovehoney

Founded in 2002, Lovehoney is a multi-award winning manufacturer and distributor of pleasure products. As the global leader in sexual happiness, and the biggest online adult retailer in Australia, we make a fun and fulfilling sex life available to everyone. Our focus on exceptional customer service, product innovation and creative marketing has placed Lovehoney at the forefront of developments in the sexual wellbeing market.

Retail Career Pathways Champion of the Year – Salvos Stores

Salvos Stores operates a national network of over 330 stores, supported by a dedicated retail support and logistics team. They strive to provide their communities with experiences that enable positive social and environmental impact. During FY2020 they generated $31 million for social welfare programs and donated $1.9 million of essential items to people in need, and directly supported communities impacted by the 2020 bushfires and engaged over 10 thousand volunteers in meaningful work.

Sustainability Champion of the Year – Manrags

Manrags first started as a sock subscription service and has pivoted to become the world’s first Direct-to-Consumer textile recycler. Over the past year we have prevented over 100,000kgs of textiles ending up in landfill. As a result, we have prevented over 400,000kgs of greenhouse gases being released into our atmosphere. We have seen an incredible growth in our business as a result of the clothing recycling element.

Marketing Campaign of the Year – Vinnies Victoria

The Society of St Vincent De Paul Victoria has over 12,000 volunteers who provide hope, comfort and assistance to disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals and communities, trapped by their circumstances due to sickness, job loss, mental illness and family breakdown. We have 110 Victorian shops and an online store, and have grown our VIP CLUB in 12 months from 0 members to over 150,000.

Logistics Champion of the Year – Winning Services

Winning Services breaks the mold of what customers expect a retail logistics company to be, offering the best customer experiences in the world. Our national distribution network includes 5 main warehouses and hub warehouses across the country, a fleet of drivers, trucks and installers who deliver and install new products and remove and recycle the older products, which range from a few kilograms up to to 370kg. We offer free next day delivery with midnight cut off and we keep the customer informed at all times.

Brand Transformation of the Year – Aqua Gardening

Aqua Gardening is a retailer which provides innovative gardening solutions to help you become a gardener in your home. We can find the right solution for your space.
In 2020 we have embraced the digital world. Our new Brisbane showroom is a place where our community can come to get inspired, learn and plan their perfect garden. Our concept focuses 100% on each customer’s individual needs, while we continue to tailor our website experience for each individual too.

Retail Awards Categories:

Celebrating the success and contributions of small, medium and larger retailers across the nation

Online Retailer of the Year – Appliances Online

In 2005 at just 21 years of age, John set out with a $50,000 business loan and founded a stand-alone online retail business. AOL caters to a growing market of Australians looking for an efficient, streamlined shopping experience that’s affordable, convenient and hassle-free. Unlike any other online retailer, AOL goes above and beyond for its customers, from the minute someone lands on our website to well after they received their product.operates nationally via its own trucks and centralised warehouses in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA.

Small Retailer of the Year – Esther & Co.

Esther & Co. was founded in 2004 when CEO Talita Estelle saw a gap in the market for beautiful quality styles at an affordable price point. Initially Esther had 2 brick-and-mortar stores located in Tasmania, but Estelle saw the growth opportunity of becoming a pure-play online retailer. In 2011 the physical stores were closed to focus on a rapid online expansion. In 2020 we launched a new website for customers which our customers are loving as evident in the increase of our conversion rate.

Medium Retailer of the Year – Nourished Life

Founded by Irene Falcone in 2011, Nourished Life started as a beauty blog to document her journey from mainstream to natural products beauty and home products. Today, Nourished Life is owned by BWX and is Australia’s home of clean beauty and more, a trusted award-winning business with thousands of natural and organic health, beauty, home and lifestyle products, supporting sustainable, eco-friendly and cruelty-free brands pioneering this space.

Large Retailer of the Year – Amart Furniture

Amart Furniture reached an incredible milestone this year, being our 50th year of trade. We always have and always will see ourselves as a traditional family owned business, despite our growing footprint across the nation. To us that means putting our team first. During the COVID crisis, never for a moment did we stop – in fact, it drove us to dial up our commitment to our team. We transformed the way we operated and ensured we stayed connected to our team via weekly leadership team updates.

Individual Awards Categories:

Recognising excellence among the trainers, professionals, managers and high achievers of retail

HR Professional of the Year – Emma Miller, Boardriders

Boardriders have over 10,000 team members globally (almost 2,000 across the Australia and New Zealand region alone). Like their collection of brands, the team is more of a community that’s connected by shared ideologies, while embracing individuality. While it all sounds like a breeze, our journey has been anything but smooth sailing. And if not for the Emma Miller’s of the world, the team would simply not be where they are today.

Emma has been invaluable in leading the region day-to-day, and through multiple ‘once-in-a-managers-lifetime’ changes and setbacks – and she triumphs through it all with skill, composure, compassion and a whole lot of flash-mob dances. She’s a tremendous person, leader and a deserving award recipient.

Store Manager of the Year – Julie Anne Benge, The Party People Megastore

Julie started her retail career packing shelves as a sales assistant at various retailers such as Big W, Payless Shoes and some small independent retailers. She held various managerial roles at Target and Krispy Kreme before starting as a retail assistant at The Party People in 2011, quickly progressing to Department Manager, then Store Manager.

Julie’s store is Australia’s largest party store – the 1700m2 floorplan houses 25,000 party supplies, providing decorating services, party coordinators and servicing online orders. This presents a unique challenge compared to most Store Manager roles as Julie has to (successfully) juggle online and in-store order fulfillment and service delivery. Her dedication and tenacity to see the business succeed is the reason for her nomination.

Young Retailer of the Year Runner Up – Madeline Bisgrove-Turner, Rebel

“My retail career began at 14 years of age and I am fortunate to have worked for Super Retail Group and Rebel for almost five years
Passionate about making a difference, my mission is to provide all Australian shoppers with meaningful experiences and exceptional products – all delivered by a remarkable team.  In 2018 at the age of 21, I became Rebel’s youngest female Store Manager in the business. I have been nominated for Store Manager of the month twice and am proud to currently lead the #1 store in the Rebel Business for our Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS).”

Young Retailer of the Year –  Emily Nuske, Rebel 

“Throughout my career with Rebel I have strived to create a fun, positive, encouraging culture for my broader team, receiving multiple nominations for Team Member of the Month over three years.
I strive to share the importance of both mental and physical wellbeing within the workplace and wider community, undertaking a Bachelor of Psychology to further drive my passion. Successfully becoming a Young Retailer of the Year finalist in 2018 made me realise the positive influence I can have with those around me and I strive to be a role model for positive development and focus of mental health within the health and sport retail industry.”