Six bed industry champions were celebrating last night as they scooped the top awards at the National Bed Federation (NBF) Bed Show Gala Dinner in Telford.
The winners were Hypnos for Bed Manufacturer of the Year (over £10m turnover); Duvalay for Bed Manufacturer of the Year (under £10m turnover); John Cotton Group for Bed Component Supplier of the Year; Bensons for Beds for Bed Retailer of the Year (over £5m beds turnover); Prestige Beds for Bed Retailer of the Year (under £5m beds turnover). The Judges’ Choice award went to BekaertDeslee.
Now in its seventh year, the highly sought after Bed Industry awards recognise the companies considered to be ‘best in class’ in the last 12 months.
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.
Said Jessica Alexander: “The standard of entries, in all categories, was very high and the gap between winners, runners up and other entrants was very small. Everyone who entered should be very proud of their achievements whether or not they were winners.
“The determination to do better, the innovation, investment and progress being made demonstrates just what a vibrant and exciting industry this is and why we should all be justly proud of it!”
The awards were announced to the winners by Meera Syal at the Bed Show’s Gala Dinner (19 September) at the Telford International Centre, attended by more than 500 people from the industry.
New for this year was the split of Bed Manufacturer of the Year into two categories – those with a turnover over £10m and those under £10m.
This year’s Bed Manufacturer of the Year (over £10m turnover) prize went to Hypnos which was praised for continuing to strengthen and build on its domestic and export business in both the hospitality and retail sectors, securing Approved Supplier status with six international hotel chains, appointing new distributors and agents in Spain, Benelux South Africa and Germany, and winning a prestigious Queens Award for Enterprise.
There were two runner ups in this hotly contested category: Highgrove Beds and Harrison Spinks.
The judges felt Highgrove Beds deserved recognition for its recent, successful growth strategy and the three distinct brands that have been created in the past year to cover the value, mid and premium markets – all of which are performing well.
Harrison Spinks has had another prosperous year that has seen, among many other developments, further significant investment in new R & D, production and warehousing facilities – and the intriguing launch of virtual reality headsets as part of its retail POS armoury.
Taking the Bed Manufacturer of the Year (under £10m turnover) trophy was Duvalay, who won the backing of TV Dragon Hilary Devey back in 2011. From starting out as a caravan mattress manufacturer it has launched itself into the mainstream bed market with the HD collection, designed by Hilary Devey, which last year won The Independent’s Best Mid-Priced Mattress award. It has earned the Good Housekeeping Institute endorsement and has signed a deal to sell the HD Collection in the Asian market through Chinese distributors.
Highly commended went to Vogue Beds for impressing the judges with its solid performance and the successful launch of a new concept in pocket spring technology – found forgotten in a suppliers’ catalogue.
Winning Bed Component Supplier of the Year was John Cotton Group. From launching the UK’s first foam free Monobloc mattress core for cots, to achieving the ISO/TS16949 certification, the first bedding company in the UK to hold it, the company has had a great year.
Praise was given to Rawson Fillings which came highly commended in the category for securing an exclusive deal to manufacture a new filling material which is breathable, easy clean, eco-friendly and made from recyclable resin.
Scooping Bed Retailer of the Year (over £5m beds turnover) was Bensons for Beds. Its megastore concept has continued to roll out across the country and this year has seen the introduction of Design Centres, offering customers access to interiors specialists to help them design their ideal bedroom space. More than 1000 sales staff have also completed additional independently accredited sleep training.
Runner up awards went to two family businesses – Archers Sleepcentre and Leekes.
With a trademarked brand, investment in software, staff training, store refurbishment programme and new initiatives, Archers Sleepcentre was praised for its move away from a discount, ‘beds to take away today’ business model to embrace a much deeper bed specialist approach.
Leekes was also a worthy runner up. The general furnisher has opened new-look mini sleep centres, introduced new ranges, developed improved, benefit-focused POS, invested in extra training, and provides all sales staff with tablets so they can access specification sheets, videos, buying guides and links to useful websites.
Competition was strong for the Bed Retailer of the Year (under £5m beds turnover) category with entries from up and down the country.
Winner of this year’s award went to Preston-based Prestige Beds which was chosen for reinventing itself over the past 12 months to push business growth, engage with new customers and improve the customer experience through in depth market research, refurbished stores and better staff training. The company has also invested in increasing its online presence and deploying smart phone technology on POS, all which has led to a massive increase in online reviews, greater instore conversion rates, increases in turnover and better sales margins.
The Carriage, based in Burley in Wharfedale, came second for taking over an ailing business, with no retail or bed industry experience and turning it into a profitable business that has seen turnover treble in the first 15 months while maintaining healthy gross profit margins.
And finally, the Judges’ Choice award went to BekaertDeslee. The award, based on one outstanding element of an entry, was given in recognition of the company’s new product development – SKIN+ – that the judges felt was really breaking new ground.
Said Simon Spinks, president of the NBF: “We’ve been holding these awards for seven years now and yet it never fails to amaze me what our industry is capable of. The awards just go to show that we are all constantly innovating, strengthening and adding to our offerings – it’s fantastic to see, and be a part of. Well done to all the winners.”