The Show Must Go On

After a second year of unprecedented challenges the National Retail Association (NRA) has unveiled Australian retail’s best and brightest across an array of categories at a landmark online awards ceremony.

The virtual format, attended by retailers from across the country, included various speakers from across the industry, including Colleen Callander, former CEO of Sportsgirl, and Turia Pitt, Australian inspiration and founder of the Spend with Them movement on Instagram.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that COVID-19 had shown how indispensable retailers are to everyday life and it was great to be able to recognise both the winners and finalists who have excelled in 2021.

“NRA members pride themselves on being the face of modern Australian retail and today’s award winners showcase the amazing talent that exists across the sector,” Ms Lamb said.

“Whether it’s in innovation, sustainability, the online market or the sector’s talented individuals, today’s awards demonstrate some of Australian retail’s incredible achievements in a year defined by adversity. Despite the continued lockdowns, it’s vital that we celebrate these retailers and take a moment to reflect on what positive moments we have had.”

The Awards were presented across three different categories: Champion Awards, Category Awards and Individual Awards.

The Champion Award winners displayed the cutting-edge work being undertaken in modern Australian retail as well as promote social responsibility, innovation and training.

NRA members span the entire sector and the Category Awards recognise the efforts of retail businesses of all sizes, online and offline in a time of challenge and change.

Australian retail is also blessed with talented individuals who work tirelessly to motivate, inspire and grow their respective businesses. The Individual Awards seek to reward those people who have made such a contribution to retail in 2021.

The event also included a highly competitive trivia quiz $1,000 worth of gift cards provided by gold sponsors Klarna and UKG.


Full list of award winners, 2021 Retail Awards:

Champion Awards Categories:

Celebrating businesses who lead the way in innovation, social responsibility and customer experience

Innovation Champion – Lovehoney

Founded in 2002, Lovehoney is a multi-award winning manufacturer and distributor of pleasure products. As the global leader in sexual happiness, and the biggest online adult retailer in Australia, we make a fun and fulfilling sex life available to everyone. Our focus on exceptional customer service, product innovation and creative marketing has placed Lovehoney at the forefront of developments in the sexual wellbeing market.

Retail Precinct of the Year – Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall is more than a retail precinct, it’s the heart of Adelaide beloved by generations of South Australians. Home to international and national brands and South Australian favourites, Rundle Mall has held market share during a challenging year to increase average spend per visit and number of visits per customer.
Unique COVID-safe experiences, events and activations drove visitation, with a customer survey finding 90% of shoppers intended to shop Black Friday in Rundle Mall over other centres. By early 2021, weekend visitation was exceeding pre-COVID levels and Rundle Mall’s vacancy rate outperformed the rest of the CBD.

Sustainability Champion of the Year – Macpac

Macpac was founded in Christchurch New Zealand in 1973 by a true outdoorsman, Bruce McIntyre. His philosophy was to make high quality, durable outdoor gear to withstand the rigors of New Zealand’s backcountry – a notoriously harsh environment. Macpac’s team is proud of the Macpac Fund for Good, a donations scheme started in 2018, which has since supported grass-roots environmental protection, social development and indigenous organisations through grants worth more than $950,000.

People & Culture Champion of the Year – Koala

Koala’s mission is to design better furniture by Australia, for the world and to help people feel comfortable at home and within. Their biggest achievement was nearly doubling headcount during the pandemic, a time when many businesses were having to make job cuts.

At Koala, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ candidate – Koala is a place where everyone has opportunity. The focus of 2020 was job creation and shaping opportunities for all, closing the inequality gap and improving economic prosperity for all.


Retail Awards Categories:

Celebrating the success and contributions of small, medium and larger retailers across the nation

Online Retailer of the Year – Cotton On

Started in Geelong in 1991, the Cotton On Group has grown to over 20,000 team members, working across 1,300 stores to bring its 8 brands to life across more than 20 countries. Since day one, the Group’s purpose has been to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and its team, customers and the communities where it operates are at the heart of this.

Small Retailer of the Year – VIVRA

Since its launch in 2016, the VIVRA has been used and loved by people from all walks of life – including travellers, athletes and mums-on-the-go. With its patented design, the VIVRA is the only fashionable beltless bumbag in the world. Spearheaded by the fiercely dynamic duo, Emily Bitkow and Sarah Hua from their headquarters in Brisbane, VIVRA has been featured in publications around the world, including The Daily Mail (UK), The Age, The Courier Mail, Marie Claire and Women’s Health.

Medium Retailer of the Year – Wilson Retail Co.

Wilson Retail Co. is the proud parent company of multi-award winning retail brands, Saltwater Wine, Stormriders and Red Herring. They are a family business based in Port Macquarie on the beautiful Mid North Coast of NSW. Last year they celebrated 10 years of Stormriders and 45 years since Saltwater Wine was founded by iconic surfboard shaper Bob Brown. Later this year, they will celebrate 50 years since Red Herring was founded by Tasmanian surfer Bill Thwaites.

Large Retailer of the Year – QBD Books

QBD Books is an Australian-owned & operated bookseller. With 84 stores spanning every state & territory, including 2 online stores, QBD faced many challenges due to the global pandemic and adapted quickly by expanding its online service & fulfillment centre and expertly managing COVID-safe shopping in stores, resulting in record growth. QBD credits its success to five main factors – its staff, team spirit and determination, continued consumer brand loyalty, the love of books and belief that reading is an essential life skill.

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year – The Somewhere Co.

The Somewhere Co. creates beautiful, functional, eco-friendly lifestyle products for home, work, baby and play. Led by Company Director and Chief Trouble Maker Ellen Powell, The Somewhere Co. brings together a dedicated team of hard-working, fun-loving picnic addicts who love pushing the creative boundaries. By staying agile and throwing the rulebook out the window, the business has flourished into a multi-million dollar, global omni-channel brand; with the opening of their retail stores over the last 12 months and a strong online presence.


Individual Awards Categories:

Recognising excellence among the trainers, professionals, managers and high achievers of retail

HR Professional of the Year – Renee Draper, On The Run

Renee Draper has worked for the last 2 ½ years as the Head of People at Peregrine; she is an experienced people and cultural leader with a strong track record of developing and delivering on operational, strategic roadmaps. She is overseeing the strategic initiatives and solutions that will set the paths to support business growth, modernisation, and sustainable performance by delivering on solutions to attract talent and develop the 5,000 employees across Peregrine’s businesses including OTR, Giftbox, The Bend Motorsport park, and Peregrine construction divisions.

Before this, she was General Manager People & Culture at Benson Radiology for eight years and General Manager Human Resources and training within the not-for- profit sector for nine years.

Store Manager of the Year – Jarred Harriss, Betty’s Burgers Newstead

Brisbane born and raised, Jarred completed year 12 whilst working Full Time and then completed his Chef Apprenticeship at 18 in less than 3 years. Now 29, he has been responsible for running a Function Kitchen Catering to Weddings & Events, overseeing multiple Kitchens & Teams and more recently, was given the opportunity to step into a Multi-Site General Manager role looking after both Betty’s Burgers Newstead & Howard Smith Wharves, which has provided him with a new challenge and growth as a General Manager.

Young Retailer of the Year –  Hannah Hales, Barbeques Galore

Hannah started with BBQ’S Galore as a casual and soon realised that she had found a passion to lead and work within the retail industry, shortly progressing into the role of Store Manager. Her love of a challenge allowed her to work on many projects within the company, most recently taking on the challenge of relocating to NSW to manage their newest company branch. A strong focus of hers is to continue developing her skills, recently enrolling in a Diploma of Leadership and Business Management. This is only the beginning – Hannah can’t wait to see what the future holds!