Digital entertainment and retail association ERA has presented its first Retail Champions Awards, dubbed the “Ivors of music retail” in an event already set to become a fixture in the music industry calendar.



ERA CEO Kim Bayley said, “In a business which is not short of awards ceremonies, it has long been an anomaly that there we no awards for the sector which engages directly with music fans. We finally fixed it – and we’re glad we did.” 

Around 170 representatives of digital services, retailers, suppliers and others spanning the breadth of entertainment gathered for the event held yesterday (September 6) as part of the first ERA Summer Party at City of London music-themed bar Eastcheap Records. 

Bayley told the audience, “We are the most significant sector in the business not to have awards and we wanted to highlight the individuals who make a difference not just for their own company but for ERA, its membership and the wider industry.” 

Importantly, she said, “All of the award-winners were nominated by their peers – and in a sense it’s the Ivor Novello Awards of retail.  The winners were selected by our Executive Board – and it was a tough choice as we had lots of worthy nominations.”

The winners of the first ERA Retail Champion Awards were: 

Jess Iszatt, BBC Radio London

The face of the joint ERA/BPI/Official Charts initiative the Record Club, the bi-monthly livestream on Facebook Live, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube Live where she has presented over 70 episodes showcasing artists from Blondie to Jessie Ware.

Graham Jones, indie store ambassador

The first award went to a stalwart of the industry – someone who has spent 30 years in business and has, alongside his day job at Proper Distribution, been a driving force in recruiting independent shops to ERA. With his 2009 book Last Shop Standing, he was among the first to publicly champion the role of indie stores, visiting almost every indie shop in the UK. 

Natasha Youngs, Resident Music, Brighton

Long-time ERA independent board member and a driving force in the indie sector. One of the drivers behind Dinked, the new brand of limited edition vinyl pressings exclusive to indie stores. 

Ian Sims, Amazon

Described by peers and suppliers as “the best vendor manager ever”, he is also a massive supporter of ERA and initiatives like National Album Day.  

Steve Roper, 369

With more than 20 years experience in the business, he started as in indie retail before changing sides to become a rep, selling Sony product to ERA members.  When Sony decided to outsource indie sales, he started his own operation 369  and is highly-regarded as a key supporter of retail. 

Rich Clarke, War Child

A key supporter of Record Store Day, championing limited edition exclusive product which has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the industry charity. He returned to the UK for the awards from Ukraine where he was with artist Jack Savoretti. 

The culmination of the evening saw a special award presented to the widow and children of legendary independent retailer Paul Quirk, one of the driving forces behind Record Store Day, and long-time chairman of ERA, who died in 2020. The award was presented by former HMV Managing Director Steve Knott who delivered a heartfelt tribute to a man he described as his complete opposite but with whom he had a deep friendship and the utmost respect. An indie retailer and an HMV corporate, a life-long Liverpool Supporter and a born and bred Man U supporter!

Reflecting on the event, Kim Bayley said, “The feedback has been amazingly positive. People loved how we honoured real people. The Retail Champion Awards have put a spotlight on the greatest unsung heroes and heroines of the music business. We are already planning next year’s event.”

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