BUSINESSES in Darlington are being encouraged to put their names forward for the town’s fourth annual retail awards.

The Darlington Town Centre Retail Awards will be presented in a glamorous, Oscars-style awards ceremony in December.

Awards will be presented in 12 categories, including the new ‘Top of the Shops’ section, which will be decided by a public vote, with the winner chosen from among the finalists.

Other changes for this year will see every shop or business that enters visited by a mystery shopper.

The awards are jointly sponsored by Darlington Borough Council, the Cornmill shopping centre, Distinct Darlington, the town’s business improvement district company, and The Northern Echo.

Other categories this year include awards for independent retailer, market stall, hair or beauty salon and customer service.

A best new business award is new for this year, and is open to businesses which opened between January 2012 and June 2013.

There are also awards for specialist retailer, evening economy, professional/service industry and the coveted shooting star award, for a candidate showing outstanding progress over the past year.

The awards, which will be presented on December 11, at the Dolphin Centre, are free to enter and open to all business in the town centre boundary.

Each of the four event sponsors are also sponsoring an award category, with sponsorship available for other awards, priced £300 per award.

For more information, call Michelle van Vlijmen, at the council, on 01325-388664.

Tickets for the awards ceremony cost £22.50, including a welcome drink, three-course meal and disco.

To book, call 01325-388410.

To enter the award, visit or