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ONE of Sunderland’s leading independent retailers has beaten off stiff opposition from across the UK to scoop one of the industry’s most coveted awards.

Designer Childrenswear at Olive Street in the city centre has been named Multichannel Independent of the Year in the Drapers Independent Awards 2018.

The awards celebrate and reward the UK’s finest independent fashion retailers in several categories.

Designer Childrenswear took top honours in the Multichannel category, which recognises excellence in the online side of the business and entrants must run a physical shop along with a transactional website.

The Sunderland shop, owned by husband and wife team Brenda and Kevin Coade, opened its doors in 1984 and has become one of the city’s most successful online retailers, shipping worldwide.

Judges were impressed to discover its online turnover has doubled over the last 12 months, with sales booming across the UK along with territories including China, the USA and the United Arab Emirates.

More than 40 members of staff are employed at the city centre offices, and nothing is outsourced, with the team doing everything in-house, including digital and web work, photography, packing and dispatching.

“We were thrilled to be nominated and shortlisted for The Drapers Award, so winning this is a huge accolade for us,” said Dionne Evans, Ecommerce manager at Designer Childrenswear.

“We have fought off some tough competition from equally impressive independents. The multichannel category was the one we wanted to win and are ecstatic to be bringing this title to the North East.

“Independent retail is huge and the fashion industry is known for being one of the toughest sectors to trade in so this is such an achievement.”

The Designer Childrenswear team picked up the award at a glittering ceremony in London earlier this month, and owner Brenda Coade believes it is testament to the hard work the team has put in behind the scenes.

“We have delivered amazing brands from our store in Sunderland for more than 30 years,” she said. “Over the past five years, Designer Childrenswear has diversified dramatically, we have adapted and grown to offer a service which is now recognised globally.

“Everyone in the company deserves recognition for their contribution and hard work -we have amazing staff that help make this possible.”

Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) is delighted to see one of the city’s most respected retailers recognised for their work.

“Small, independent traders are the backbone of our city centre, and Designer Childrenswear is a perfect example of how to succeed,” she said. “Not only does it serve people in and around Sunderland, but it is shipping daily across the world.

“To win such a high profile accolade as a Drapers Independents award is a real coup not just for Designer Childrenswear but for the city as a whole, and is proof that with hard work and a forward vision, you can succeed on an international level while maintaining your high street roots.”

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