Retail Awards 2021: finalists for essential retailer of the year

Old Road News, Specsavers Shipley / Keighley and Boots The Broadway are finalists in the Essential Retailer of the Year category at the 2021 Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Awards


Local newsagents are the heart of the community, never more than during the pandemic.

Newsagents have become the lifeline for many vulnerable and elderly people and when queues formed in supermarkets people turned to small independent stores.

Old Road News is managed and owned by Mr Hunter, it has proactively increased its door-to-door deliveries ensuring people stay connected to local and reliable news and essential supplies.

Mr Hunter ran into supply issues with local wholesalers, but instead of giving up, he spent hours and hours driving to make sure he had the stock for his customers.

Throughout the pandemic, he has also ensured that no one leaves without going out every morning at 5 a.m. to deliver their customers before returning and opening their shop.

He has run the store for 33 years and has helped so many families through their toughest times.

He lives and breathes his clients and I think now more than ever he should be recognized for all he does to support the community he has served for so long that it brings honor to the industry.

Specsavers Shipley / Keighley staff have fun


Specsavers is a franchise optician operated by its owner.

Rajbir Gill is an optometrist who works at Specsavers in Shipley.

On March 23, 2020, the country entered lockdown and businesses closed.

It was closed but still open for urgent or urgent care.

Raj was the only optometrist on the scene as the remaining optometry team had been put on leave.

Most of the town’s opticians were closed and Bradford Eye Casualty (BRI) was not seeing any patients.

Raj had informed the local GPS that we would always see emergencies, remote care first and face to face if necessary (in full PPE).

Even if it was important that customers could still get their glasses and contact lenses during these difficult times, what he delivered in abundance was for the MECS (service of minor eye diseases) that he procured. made known.

Ensuring the safety of clients and colleagues was paramount.

At first, it was difficult to get hold of PPE, so clinics were carefully screened to determine if patients should come face to face or if they could be seen by video call.

It soon became apparent that we had to see most of them face to face in order to be able to examine the eyes.

The staff had been put on leave and were anxious, no one knew what would happen and if there would be a business they could return to or if all the staff would return.

Specsavers set up weekly check-in calls to see how the team is doing each week.

It was to keep everyone in the know and to relieve anxieties.

And a bi-weekly video recording came out explaining what the changes in Covid guidelines meant for us as a business as it was changing rapidly.

After part of the lockdown, some of our 50 employees started to return, some were unable to due to risk.

So, to help with the well-being of the team, they were sending out fun videos to keep everyone smiling and shining like a beacon in this dark time.

These get more elaborate over time and become something everyone has been looking forward to.

Specsavers was open to care, and Raj worked seven days a week to cover Shipley and Keighley’s practices every day.

Bradford’s practice did not have an optometrist at the time, so Raj stepped in to cover all stores seven days a week throughout 3/12 of the lockdown.

Other local Specsavers were just teleconsulting and referring us to anything they felt needed further investigation.

They covered the entire area of ​​the Bradford District. Patients had moved from one pillar to the next when they needed it most. General practitioners did not see them.

Some of them presented with sight threatening conditions and some even presented with life threatening conditions.

Just a few testimonials are listed below;

Sophie Maddox presented with a severe headache, she was referred urgently for a lumbar puncture to reduce intracranial pressure, she was 20 weeks pregnant, it could have been dangerous for her and her baby. The treatment was successful and she now has little baby Hugo who was born in September 2020.

Sheila Bates witnessed wet macula degeneration – “I felt really lonely, and the fact that Specsavers saw me when I was desperate, I will never forget”

Robin Spiller witnessed metallic foreign objects in his right eye after using a grinder at home.

Raj removed two metallic foreign bodies from his eye under local anesthesia. He said: “I was amazed at how much better I felt immediately, when I walked in I couldn’t open my eyes because of the pain, when I walked out I was me again -same.”

Susan Bell suddenly developed spots in her vision in her left eye, she was urgently referred for eye surgery to the Royal Bradford Infirmary after being diagnosed with retinal detachment.

In the summer, even young babies, several weeks old, were referred to Specsavers by the local GP. The list goes on; the number of people who have been helped in this difficult time is quite large.

This incredible team of Specsavers took the burden off heavily loaded hospital clinics, so they could focus on the pandemic.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Boots Bravo to BroadwayBravo from Boots at The Broadway


Boots in The Broadway has been open throughout the pandemic, with the team working extremely hard to protect staff and customers from Covid.

The store management ensured that all security measures were in place.

The pharmacy team, in particular, went above and beyond to make sure patients have their medications and to ensure that vulnerable and protective patients deliver.

A member of the pharmacy team took over the task of the store by performing Covid PCR testing for people who need to make essential trips throughout the pandemic.

Their pharmacist also worked between two stores, one of which was doing the Covid vaccination.

As they begin flu season, this team deserves to take home an award for all the hard work they do every day, but especially over the past 18 months.

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