SERVICE with a smile is very important in business and for the town's bus service it means everything.

Reading Buses, proud sponsors of the Reading Retail Awards 2017, endeavours to recruit 'people who like people'.

People are the greatest strength and asset of any organisation and a friendly greeting at the start of a long day can make all the difference.

Despite a declining national trend, Reading Buses continues to experience year-on-year growth in passenger numbers, while maintaining an award-winning environmental awareness.

Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses, said: “We are delighted to support this award as it represents everything we care passionately about.

“Research has calculated bus users in the UK make over 1.4 billion shopping trips by bus each year with a total estimated retail spend of £27b.

“Providing great service is a must, be it on Reading’s buses or on the high street, so recognising the key role staff play in this means sponsoring this category was a no-brainer for us”

Reading Buses employs more than 550 people, making it one of the largest employers in the town.

At the 2016 UK Bus Awards, the company came in as the Top Shire Operator. They also claimed the top spot for Environment and the Putting Passengers First.

Drivers, technicians and front-of-house staff are encouraged to provide excellent customer service through the Star of the Month and Star of the Year schemes, by recognising ambassadors for the company.

He added: “Drivers are scouted for excellent customer service skills and use the in-house training academy to make sure they are trained to the very highest standards.

“We make no secret that we aim to be the best bus company in the country. We’ve been in operation for more than 100 years and whether it is our employees or customers, we really care about people and providing excellent service to everyone.

“This is why we wanted to give something back by sponsoring the Reading Retail Awards Service with a Smile category.”

Entry forms for the Reading Retail Awards are available at Broad Street Mall and The Oracle and the closing date for nominations is Monday, July 10.