It was a night for celebrations as seven bed industry champions scooped coveted trophies at the National Bed Federation (NBF) Bed Show Gala Dinner.
Hosted by presenter Martin Bayfield, the Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony – which attracts over 500 guests from the industry – saw winners from across bed manufacturing, retailing and production, recognised for their achievements in innovation, growth and marketing.
This year’s winners were Harrison Spinks for Bed Manufacturer of the Year (over £10m turnover); Millbrook for Bed Manufacturer of the Year (under £10m turnover); Maes Mattress Tickings for Bed Component Supplier of the Year; Dreams for Large Bed Retailer of the Year; Argos for Large Online Bed Retailer; Arighi Bianchi for Small Bed Retailer of the Year and Otty Sleep for Small Online Bed Retailer of the Year.
The winners were chosen, from a bumper crop of entries, by an independent panel of judges including Richard De Melim (Furnishing Report), Roy Beagent (Minerva), Peter Mallinson (AIS), Bernard Eaton (Greenwood Retail) and Jessica Alexander, executive director of the NBF.
“It’s the eighth year of honouring the industry’s stars and another wonderful year of high calibre entries,” said Tony Lisanti, president of the NBF. “It is brilliant to see the winners’ hard work and innovative ideas rewarded on such a special night in the bed industry calendar.”
This year’s Large Bed Manufacturer of the Year (over £10m turnover) prize went to Harrison Spinks which was praised for its strategic pursuit of vertical integration. In the past year, it has started weaving its own cloth (including its own FR chemical free one), cutting its own timber from its own forests and spinning its own wire for its own springs. It also has won two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and a host of other accolades.
The runner up in this hotly contested category was Hypnos. With a year that saw significant overseas growth, investment in internal process improvements and impressive careers outreach to students, schools and even the Armed Forces, it’s little wonder this company was also named one of 10 Rising Stars in the Sunday Times Profit Track.
Taking the Small Bed Manufacturer of the Year (under £10m turnover) trophy was Millbrook. It impressed the judges for investing in service and marketing in a difficult market with a new team in place and an impressive set of high profile partnerships to align themselves with a healthy active lifestyle.
Highly commended went to Duvalay for capitalising on the successes of recent years, expanding its capacity and increasing exports into SE Asia and China.
Winning Bed Component Supplier of the Year was Maes Mattress Tickings. It has developed a product, for the UK market, that is non-toxic, biodegradable and contains no FR chemicals, yet meets the UK FR requirements. It’s a product that has already been taken up by five bed manufacturers, clearly proving its worth.
Praise was given to John Cotton Group which came highly commended in the category for consistently delivering high standards, getting under the skin of its customers’ needs and adding to its portfolio of commercially attractive, environmentally conscious and unique inventions.
Scooping Large Bed Retailer of the Year (over £5m beds turnover) was Dreams. With like for like sales and profits both up in the period under consideration – it was named number one in the Sunday Times profit ‘Track 100’ back in April – excellent customer feedback scores and impressive initiatives in communications both externally and internally, this company was a stand-out for the judges this year.
It was close competition but this year Bensons for Beds claimed the runner up spot. The judges liked the company’s innovative use of Virtual Reality technology, and its sound marketing, based on extensive customer research backed up by a clear strategy.
Entries were strong for the Bed Retailer of the Year (under £5m beds turnover) category with companies from up and down the country entering into the awards.
Winner of this year’s award went to Macclesfield-based Arighi Bianchi which has been selling beds for 115 years. It was chosen for its commitment to ongoing comprehensive staff training, the praise from its bed suppliers and its customer service – staff have been known to pop into the odd house to turn a mattress!
Peter Betteridge – The Bed Expert – based in Kingsbridge, came second for having an impressive 12 months which saw the company rebrand, introduce its own label product range, receive a number of customer service awards and export to over 20 countries with a website available in seven languages.
New for this year were the Large Online Bed Retailer and Small Online Bed Retailer categories.
The winner of the Small Online Bed Retailer of the Year went to Otty Sleep. The judges praised the profitable business for being built with no external investment to date and creating its own identity to help it stand out from the crowd. It has developed a competitively priced product which has won a Which? Best Buy award and has ambitious plans to expand into Europe.
Hügge was the judge’s runner up. Some 200 crowdfunders helped the company get off the ground in less than 24 hours and exceed first year targets for net revenue. Product differentiation (and a bag rather than a box!) and an emphasis on customer service is at the heart of this ambitious business which is also eyeing markets overseas.
Picking up Large Online Bed Retailer of the Year was household name Argos. Judges were impressed with its continued growth in a challenging environment but also its commitment to maintaining market share and profile plus driving digital innovation.
A strong runner up for the award was Land of Beds which was highly commended for its transition from a historic high street retailer into a fully integrated, profitable multi-channel retailer with over 60% of sales made online. The company has embraced technology to future proof the business and is thriving in this new digital era.
Added Tony Lisanti: “Once again, congratulations to all our finalists and winners – who are all a reflection of the very best in this business.”