THE Independent Business of the Year award goes to the HBID member which has significantly increased its performance or potential in the latest financial year.

The size and age of the business was relevant and considered against its performance.

The judges looked at new products or services, innovations and changes in processes, as well as expansion into new markets or different areas of business activity.

The shortlisted entries are: BBR Optometry Ltd in St Owen Street, Fodder in Church Street and The Kup-cake Kitchen Cafe in Union Street.

BBR Optometry Ltd is the only remaining independent optometry practice in Hereford city.

They have worked tirelessly to upgrade and upskill their clinical services so that they are the first port of call for both first and second opinions on all aspects of eye health.

They are also the only optical practice that can diagnose and treat eye disease without recourse to a GP or the eye unit.

BBR Optometry began as Bishops Opticians in 1969 when Peter and Angela Bishop arrived in Hereford.

They were joined by Nick Rumney in 1991 and thus became BBR Optometry in 2002. Currently a three-partner business; Nick Rumney, Nicholas Black and Suzanne Wadsworth, BBR Optometry quickly established itself at the leading edge of clinical, optical and contact lens care.

In July 2017 they launched the new Tear Clinic, a means to assess, investigate, diagnose and treat the debilitating condition of dry eye using a unique guided approach and clinical instrumentation only available in four other outlets in the UK.

Fodder in Church Street specialises in organic and local food products, gluten free products, health supplements, herbal remedies, toiletries and skin care.

The shop was taken over by Mark Hubbard and Phil Wilson in September 2014, with a clear set of priorities: re-invigoration of the Fodder brand; clear expansion of the range of goods offered; a re-emphasis on quality and price; and developing a happy and knowledgeable staff team.

Working with a local graphic designer, the Fodder logo was re-created into a confident stand-alone image that has now been applied to the in-house packaged goods. The shop front was redecorated and the shop itself was fully stocked. Staff wages were increased and in-house training sessions on the products stocked were instigated.

Then in March of this year they took over a shop opposite, renovated it and opened Fodder Lotions and Potions, which offers an extensive range of organic, plant based hair, skin and beauty merchandise along with a complete range of herbal supplements and alternative health care products.

The Kupcake Kitchen Café in Union Street was set up in May 2015, after owner Valencia Simpson almost lost her life to sepsis following a routine operation.

The illness prompted Valencia to take the plunge and open up her own cake shop.

She applied for a business start-up loan but disaster struck when days after Christmas a house fire broke out at her home and she lost everything, including what she had bought for the shop.

However she finally opened. Three months in, her business rates rose from around £126 a month to £457 a month, so she came up with the idea of running courses to make up for the shortfall.

The cafe offers bespoke coffee, and cupcakes as well as serving bubbles, but she has also branched out into offering delivery, classes, parties, courses and occasion cakes.

They also rent out vintage crockery. In September they are due to launch a brochure featuring the new range of wedding and bespoke cakes.