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Womenswear Retailer of the Year: Foundation, 22 Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham

Brands include By Malene Birger, Hoss, Marilyn Moore, Nicole Farhi, Rützou, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania

It’s difficult to pinpoint the best thing about Foundation. From a well-targeted brand mix and a luxuriously welcoming store, to the attentiveness of the customer service (the store offers valet parking to take away the stress of finding a parking space in a town known to be lacking in this), Foundation has it all covered. Gemma and James Wiseman, a shrewd couple, have adapted their brand mix to suit the recessionary tastes of their customers without hitting profits - in fact, quite the opposite. Attention to detail is key, from the deliciously scented candles (Foundation’s own brand, for sale in-store) to the shop’s exclusively designed tissue paper and carrier bags. No stone is left unturned at this chic womenswear indie.

Finalists

Highly commended

1. The Women’s Society Boutique

2 St Andrew Street, Hertford

Brands include Almost Famous, Bolongaro Trevor, Sandwich

The Women’s Society Boutique has reinvented itself for the new era of the yummy mummy. It has pushed prices by introducing aspirational labels, and broadened its customer base by adding eveningwear and occasionwear.

2. Attic

St Martins, Stamford and 38 High St, Oakham

Brands include Almost Famous, Betty Jackson, By Timo, Esprit

Serving an affluent countryside-dwelling demographic, Attic houses a product mix that is designed to thrill and reassure in equal measure.

3. Donna Ida

40 Elizabeth Street, London SW1

Brands include Citizens of Humanity, Stella McCartney, Wildfox

Denim specialist Donna Ida has an unwavering focus on two things - expert knowledge and customer service - but its owners are fantastic at PR and marketing too.

4. Michelle B

Gisburn Rd, Barrowford, Lancashire

Brands include Amanda Wakeley, Maria Grachvogel, Valentino Red

Michelle Berkins has worked hard on making her eponymous indie feel like a sanctuary, and customers frequently pop in for a fresh coffee and get converted into shoppers.

5. Psyche

175-187 Linthorpe Rd, Middlesbrough

Brands include J Brand, Juicy Couture, Marc by Marc Jacobs

Owner Steve Cochrane had the foresight to bulk-buy J Brand’s Houlihan jean this year so was one

of the few retailers not to sell out of one of 2010’s top-selling trouser style. He also invested in a revamp for Psyche’s womenswear department to keep it ahead of the curve.

6. Sarah Coggles

91-93 Low Petergate, York

Brands include 7 For All Mankind, Paul & Joe Sister, Religion

Enter the womenswear department in the Sarah Coggles store and you are immediately drawn to the quirky mix of contemporary labels, where at least 20% of stock comes from new brands each season.

7. Stripes

13 The Foregate, Worcester

Brands include BZR, Turnover, Vivienne Westwood Red Label

With an innate ability to spot a great new brand and edit a collection to suit its customers’ tastes, sisters Claire Wright and Jenny Plant have brought designer and premium womenswear brands to Worcester.

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