Newry and Newtownards recognised by government-backed high street awards

Eammon Connolly and Peter Murray from Newry Business Improvement District accept the Rising Star Award from Jake Berry MP; Lucia Pesce, Visa; and Simon Tune, Elavon

NEWTOWNARDS has been named the north's ‘champion high street', while Newry city centre has been named ‘rising star'.

The accolades from the UK government-run ‘Great British High Street Awards' in Edinburgh sees both urban centres receive £5,000.

The judges, backed by Visa, commended Newry for the launch of its new VIP shopper initiative.

The text loyalty scheme aims to help drive footfall and sales from existing customers. The discounts apply in over 70 stores and are all stored on an easy to use fob.

Eammon Connolly of Newry Business Improvement District said: “The award is testament to the hard work of our community team in encouraging people back to the high street through innovation and customer experience.

“We are excited to deliver the initiatives during the year ahead and are extremely thankful to the Great British High Street Awards and Visa for the opportunity”

Newtownards has been commended for successful high street renovations, allowing the introduction of different service providers other than the traditional family-run stores that have dominated previously, and initiatives that celebrated the town's heritage such as Viking Day.

Leigh Nelson of Newtownards Chamber of Trade, said: “It is undoubtedly the commitment, hard work, dedication and drive of the whole community of Newtownards and the surrounding area that has helped us to win this.”

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