NBF announces bed industry awards winners

Six bed industry businesses, from a shortlist of finalists chosen by an independent panel of judges, celebrated as they scooped the top accolades announced at the NBF’s Bed Show gala dinner last night.

This year’s winners were Shire Beds for Bed Product of the Year; John Cotton Non-Wovens for Component Product of the Year; Hypnos for the Sustainability Award; Dreams for National Bed Retailer of the Year; Mattress Online for Online Bed Retailer of the Year and Southeast-based Sussex Beds for NBF Retail Champion of the Year.

Packed full of action and glamour after a year’s break in 2020, the Bed Awards ceremony and Gala Dinner returned to the Telford International Centre’s Ludlow Suite, hosted by top comic and writer, Jo Caulfield, and was attended by more than 350 guests from the industry. The awards, now in their eleventh year, recognise bed manufacturers, suppliers and retailers representing the very best in inspiration, design, growth, and innovation.

“The annual awards are industry-renowned for recognising the standout companies in the bed sector. In a year of change, we congratulate all those who put themselves forward to be judged, and celebrate all the brilliant finalists and award winners,” said David Moffitt, president of the NBF.

Bed Product and Component Product of the Year were judged by Paul Farley of Furniture News, Steve Adams, md of Mattress Online, Jerry Cheshire, md of Surrey Beds, and Sue Davies, owner of Sue Davies Design Solutions.

This year’s Bed Product of the Year prize went to Shire Beds Ltd for its Signature Range.  Building on the success of the Constable Natural Pillow Top, which was a finalist in 2019’s Bed of The Year category, Shire Beds has developed a range of high-quality, high-specification, hand-stitched mattresses that contain natural fillings of wool, cotton, cashmere, silk and latex. Judges felt this high specification range had the right look and feel to compete with branded products, offering great value for money and exceptional margins for the independent retailer, coupled with an impressive two-week lead time.

Runners up for the Bed Product of the Year Award were Sleepeezee for its PocketGel Poise Plus and Vogue Beds for its Vegan Mattress.

Taking the Component Product of the Year trophy was John Cotton Non-Wovens with PlatinumEco™ which is already being used in new mattress launches. Introduced as the “only” credible performance polyester component able to replace foam, judges felt that with its environmentally sustainable design – FR chemical-free and 100% recyclable at end of life – PlatinumEco satisfies a noticeable gap in the market, being the first polyester that feels and performs like foam, at the right price.

The Sustainability Award was judged by David Fitzsimons, director of Oakdene Hollins and European Remanufacturing Council, Amy Peace of Innovate UK, and Professor Martin Charter of the University for the Creative Arts.

Winning the Sustainability Award was Hypnos who pulled out all the stops demonstrating activity and progress on all the award’s criteria – product design, procurement, process improvement, packaging, transport, waste and energy, end of life, employee and customer engagement and corporate social responsibility. It was a compelling narrative and shining industry example of the need to take as broad an approach to sustainability as possible. Notable achievements include 10 years carbon neutral; circularly designed mattresses; renewable and recyclable plastic packaging; direct home delivery service; mattress recycling scheme; social enterprise projects and a new sustainability partnership with Plant Mark / Eden Project.

NBF Retail Champion of the Year, National Bed Retailer and Online Bed Retailer were judged by Richard de Melim of Furnishing Report, Andrew Kidd of Interiors Monthly and Bernard Eaton, md of Greenwood Retail.

The prize of Online Bed Retailer of the Year went to Mattress Online, which made a record-breaking profit and had the largest growth in its 18-year history. It recently reached its huge milestone of recycling 100,000 mattresses and featured on several major TV channels. Demonstrating people are at the heart of the company, Mattress Online launched an employee health and wellbeing initiative, a new training facility, boosted its team by 61% and donated £51,000 to NHS staff. The online retailer also showed great use of initiative during the Covid-19 pandemic by avoiding furlough through a restructure of non-remote workers’ shift patterns.

Sussex Beds scooped NBF Retail Champion of the Year. Over the past 12 months, the southeast-based retailer made a record-breaking profit and seized the opportunities the pandemic brought, demonstrating that creative thinking, solid planning, and a united team can bring success through the most challenging trading conditions. The retailer opened two new stores and a distribution hub, invested in its e-commerce site resulting in a vast increase in revenue as well as a virtual training platform to support staff, and kept in daily contact with employees to check in on their wellbeing.

Winner of the National Bed Retailer of the Year was Dreams. Dreams truly came true for this national retailer over the past year, which defied the notion that traditional retailing is dead, opening six new stores and investing in warehouse capacity that in turn created 30 additional jobs. However, the national retailer also expanded its online retail offer, and recognising the growing concern for sustainability, reached its milestone of recycling one million beds and mattresses. Acknowledging concerns around work-life balance after a challenging year for many personally, Dreams also reduced staff’s contracted hours.

Scooping Bed Product of the Year, Shire Beds’ sales and marketing director Fara Butt shared her excitement of their win: “We are delighted our Signature Range is the winner of the Product of the Year. The Shire Signature Collection answers the call of the company’s retailers seeking to maximize margin while still offering their customers a top-quality product.  The Shire Signature Collection has been developed to achieve high shop floor margins comfortably on the cost price, while still being considered good value and under the cost of the larger well-established brands. In this challenging trading environment, this is exactly what the retailer and end consumer are looking for – quality products at great value.”

Taking the Bed Component of the Year trophy, Sophie Bulman sales and marketing manager at John Cotton Non-Wovens said: “John Cotton are delighted to be winners of the NBF Bed Component of the Year 2021. This award makes us extremely proud, as we have been working on our Platinum Eco product for many years, and it is extremely rewarding to see that all our hard work has finally paid off and is recognised within the industry.

Having won the award will greatly increase our justification for future customers who want to use Platinum Eco within a mattress to replace foam. It provides gravitas to any of our future marketing campaigns and carries considerable merit within the industry”.

James Keen, Chief Executive of Hypnos, winner of the Sustainability Award, said: “We’re pioneers for sustainable change so we’re always looking at ways we can improve or enhance the ethical way in which we operate. Receiving this award recognises this commitment and means so much to everyone in the business. We’re all incredibly passionate about being sustainable and this award is testament to the dedication of every employee in the business who works extremely hard to ensure that every bed we produce meets our exacting ethical standards.”

Online Bed Retailer of the Year winner, Steve Adams CEO of Mattress Online, said: “It’s an honour to have once again been recognised within the industry and amongst our peers as the best at what we do.  Despite the fast growth we’ve experienced, the Mattress Online team has risen to the challenge, consistently going above and beyond for our customers.  I’m incredibly proud of what we achieve as a business, it’s fantastic to be Online Retailer of the Year for the third consecutive year.”

NBF Retail Champion of the Year winner, Steve Pickering of Sussex Beds, shared his gratitude for his team: “To be shortlisted is an achievement of which we were already proud, to win is simply incredible.  The past year has been a rollercoaster for every business with dark days and bright days.  We are so lucky to have such a wonderful, dedicated, and supportive team of people who have provided us support and belief throughout.  I dedicate this award to every single one of my amazing team. I may provide the dream, but they are the ones who make it happen.  Thank you.”

Ona final note, Kelly Davies, head of marketing and communications at Dreams who won National Retailer of the Year said: “We are absolutely delighted our colleagues’ hard work and determination in such challenging times has been recognised.  We are very proud to receive this award again from the National Bed Federation and we’ll continue to work hard on improving all aspects of our business for our colleagues and our customers.”

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