Retailer Marks & Spencer has scooped its fourth consecutive RSPCA Good Business Award in recognition of its animal welfare-friendly fashion policies.

Yorkshire-based fashion company Izzy Lane won the small fashion retailer category in the annual UK awards, while online fashion store Natural Collection took a prize for its ongoing commitment to change.

The awards, presented during a ceremony at London's Natural History Museum, were judged by an independent panel of experts, based on criteria set out by the RSPCA.

M&S took its prize thanks to its product traceability, its stance against the use of fur in any of its products and its commitment to ethical sourcing.

Izzy Lane was praised for the company's beautiful knitwear collection, and its commitment to good animal husbandry, with the retailer saving 500 sheep via its sheep sanctuary in 2006/7.

"It is truly heartening to see that two companies - of very different scales - have taken note of the growing consumer concern for animal welfare, and have created profitable business models that place these principles at their core," said Wayne Hemingway, one of the fashion judges.

Meanwhile, Natural Collection was recognised for its extensive range of eco, organic and ethically traded fashion, while also illustrating that it could still turn a profit.

"With the high street currently feeling the effect of the global credit crunch, it is really encouraging to see our winners making animal welfare an integral part of their ethical agendas, and they all deserve huge praise for the progress they have made," said David Bowles, head of external affairs at the RSPCA.