THE town's longest serving shopping centre has vouched for the Reading Retail Awards as a force for business good.

Broad Street Mall, formerly the Butts Centre, have been serving the people of Reading since 1971.

Despite recent and fierce opposition from the Oracle, which stands at the far end of the Broad Street shopping parade, the mall has been busy refurbishing and filling its 40,000m² of retail floor space.

Broad Street Mall's General Manager Graham Mountford believes the Retail Awards has helped in their recent progression.

“In the last year we have seen 11 new units come into the Mall and 10 refurbishments of units that have or are about to take place," he said.

“The Retail Awards recognise excellence in our field and last year Boswells and Card Factory gained local recognition.

“This along with our current refurbishment of the Mall show the public that not only is there a good offer of retailers and services, but that the quality of the service of those traders is high.”

Mr Mountford went on to say that the “feelgood factor” has helped generate confidence, which in turn has led to further investment in the mall.

“The vacancy rate in the Mall is 5.2 per cent, which is nearly half the national average of 10.1 per cent.

“All of these factors – the retail awards, the new stores and the refurbishment of existing stores have led to an increase in footfall over the last 18 months which is consistently beating national trends.

“We still have more work to do, but we think our customers will like what they see.”

The shortlist for the Reading Retail Awards was released last week.

To find out who's heading to the final in the awards' twelve categories and how to get tickets to September's ceremony, go to www.readingretailawards.co.uk