Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.10.53Sunderland’s booming retail sector and the city’s most stylish individuals and outlets are set to be celebrated, with the combining of two major award ceremonies.

For the first time, Sunderland’s Retail and Style Awards are joining forces to honour  businesses, events and people who have helped put the city on the map.

The event is being jointly organised by the Bridges shopping centre and radio station Sun FM, with nominations for the 17 categories open today (January 7).

Sponsored by Sunderland’s Business Improvement District, the awards will give shops, restaurants, bars, hairdressers and beauty salons the opportunity to be recognised.

Categories in the retail section include awards for large, medium and small retailers, best customer service, employee of the year, manager of the year, up and coming business and the Experience It Here award for the best city centre experience.

In the style section nominations are being sought for the Most Stylish Mackem along with sections for top bars, restaurants, salons and individual awards for top bloggers and the city’s most glamorous mam.

Nominations can be made on line at www.sun-fm.com/rsawards2016 and will close at the end of March, with the awards evening taking place at the Bridges on April 23.

Attendees at the glitzy ceremony –which will include live music, dinner and a fashion show – will also get the opportunity to come away with an award on the night, with a Red Carpet honour being given out to the best dressed.

“2015 was an excellent year for the retail sector in the city and we welcomed a number of new businesses with some exciting plans going forward,” said Andy Bradley, Centre Director at the Bridges.

“These awards give retailers of all sizes – from leading high street names to our impressive range of independents – the opportunity to be recognised for the great service they offer.”

Julian Carter, Managing Director of Sun FM, added that the style section of the awards gave both individuals and leisure outlets the opportunity to shine.

“With the current regeneration and positive momentum, there has never been a better time to unite the already successful style awards into an even bigger retail and style events,” said Julian.

“We’ve put together a range of exciting categories which not only gives the city’s leading restaurants, bars and salons a showcase but also there’s a chance for our most stylish individuals to be publicly acknowledged.”

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase businesses of all types and sizes, including the city burgeoning restaurant and café scene and to recognise their innovation and hard work,” said Ken Dunbar, Chief Executive of main sponsor, Sunderland BID.

A shortlist for each category will be drawn up by a judging panel, which will then be put to a public vote.

A number of sponsorship opportunities are also available for the night and further information is available by contacting Harry Collinson at harrycollinson@aol.com.