When we first launched the SLR Awards more than two decades ago we put a lot of thought into it, as you can imagine. SLR was a mere pup of a magazine at the time, but we realised quickly that we had to host a public celebration of the amazing industry we were serving and the outstanding people behind it – and the SLR Awards was the result.
As part of that process, we settled on June as the ideal time of year for all sorts of reasons. We were trying to avoid clashes with other industry events, we were mindful of school and public holidays, and we liked the idea of a summer extravaganza, among many other reasons. Turns out our plan was sound and, indeed, for about 19 years or so the awards went swimmingly and provided a lovely wee chance for the industry to catch up every year and raise a glass to local retailing as summer kicked in. Then Covid happened.
As you may recall we had to do a couple of ‘virtual’ SLR Awards which were fun in their own peculiar way, but which didn’t compare to the real thing. Meeting up face to face over a beer or two is something we all learned to miss and appreciate during The Covid Years.
The problem was, on the day that lockdown was consigned to history, we had to work around the reality of the timing, just like everyone else in the industry. The result was that, instead of having industry awards ceremonies and events dotted nicely throughout the year, they all got clumped together, generally in about October and November time.
It became clear that entering four or five awards ceremonies and attending six or eight events in the space of just a couple of months was less than ideal for anyone – and retailers certainly made that clear to us. Similarly, it wasn’t working particularly well for sponsors and partners either.
The solution was clear: bite the bullet, take the tough decision and return to our home in June. So that’s what we’re doing. We sincerely hope that it makes your life just a little bit easier and we firmly believe that the SLR Awards on 19 June 2024 will be another fantastic event where we get to put local retailing in the spotlight once more.
We’re coming home – and I hope you’ll be joining us. Block out 19 June in your diary and make sure you get your entries in on time. We want it to be a homecoming to remember.
Antony Begley, Publishing Director, SLR