Market towns boast outstanding customer service

Businesses from the market towns of Alresford, Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham were recognised for their outstanding customer service at a special awards ceremony last week (Thursday 14 April).

A mystery shopping scheme organised by Shopper Anonymous and funded by Winchester City Council revealed that almost three quarters of businesses across the four towns scored over 90% when judged on criteria such as displays, helpfulness of staff and ease of finding products. The average score among the businesses was an incredible 89%, 10 percentage points higher than the national average.

At the ceremony, twenty six businesses were awarded certificates marking their achievement of a gold standard. Sharing the top score were Piccola Roma, Bishop’s Waltham’s Italian restaurant, and Byrne Runciman, the Wickham-based estate agent. Each business received a specially engraved trophy.

Director of Byrne Runciman, Ben Runciman, said: “We were delighted to be joint overall winners of this award. Our aim has always been to provide an outstanding personal service and to be presented with this award means a huge amount. It underlines our commitment which we have been proud of for 25 years.”

As well as the individual businesses, mystery shoppers were also asked to comment on their overall impression of the town they visited. The availability of free parking and eclectic mix of independent shops were cited several times in relation to each of the towns. All shoppers without exception said they would visit the towns again.

A trophy was also presented to the town with the highest scoring group of businesses, which went to Wickham on the night.

One mystery shopper was quoted as saying about Wickham: “I was truly impressed by the range of businesses on offer in the quirky, charming, squared village. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, staying for four hours and I would certainly visit again, even though my journey was almost 20 miles.”

David Webb, Rural Affairs and Tourism Policy Chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, who presented the awards at the ceremony said: “These businesses are an absolute credit to their towns. There is no doubt that the outstanding level of customer service they offer results in a shopping experience for which people will return again and again.”



For press enquiries and any further information, contact Heidi Isa, Market Towns Development Officer at Winchester City Council on 01962 848 069 or email

For information about Shopper Anonymous, see