A WOMAN who gave up a career in pharmaceutical sales to launch a luxury membership club is in the running for The Press Business Personality of the Year award.

Patricia Sherriff set up She Loves York almost a decade ago and has built it up to support independents and national brands on the high street - and encourage people to shop locally.

“Over the past nine years I have built up a successful luxury membership club, She Loves York, through hard work, determination, clear vision and dedication to my core ethos of providing a quality product and service to companies and consumers in the area," she said.

“She Loves York connects local people and businesses. It encourages repeat sales and footfall for our businesses (who pay a yearly fee and are called our partners) and provides exclusive savings and events for card holders - our “members - who pay an annual sum to join."

She added: “I gave up a lucrative career in pharmaceutical sales to launch the business and ploughed redundancy money into it as well as all my profits from the first two years. I went through a divorce in my first year with She Loves York, but it made me even more determined to make it a success: I knew I could help local companies grow as well as provide a great offer for customers – people like me – to discover and enjoy the best shops, restaurants, bars and other luxury services that the city has to offer.

“I was right, but it has been an all-consuming task to get the business to where it is. Not only was I single-handedly responsible for marketing, advertising, signing up businesses and selling memberships, I even stepped in and helped one partner run their business when they needed time off after an accident. This is because I genuinely care about my partners, and our members.

“In the early days I went door-to-door, personally persuading each business to join. In that first year, I signed up 30 businesses and had 1,000 card holders. Today, we have more than 2,000 card holders and 130 businesses.

“I believe I am different from other business leaders in the city because of the level of my personal commitment to and involvement with partners and members. I genuinely care about York, and about saving the high street and doing whatever I can to ensure our city centre remains a vibrant and lucrative place for companies and consumers alike. I am very loyal to our partners and shop, eat, drink and purchase from them.”