Five bed industry champions celebrated as they scooped the top awards at the National Bed Federation (NBF) Bed Show Gala Dinner. In addition, a special lifetime service award was presented to an industry stalwart.
The winners were: Hypnos for Bed Manufacturer of the Year; J DeWalleg for Bed Component Supplier of the Year; Furniture Village for Multiple Bed Retailer of the Year; Surrey Beds for Independent Bed Retailer of the Year; and Loaf for E-tailer of the Year. Peter Keen, chairman of Hypnos, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the bed industry.
Now in their fourth year, the highly sought-after awards were designed to recognise the companies considered best in class over the past 12 months.
The winners were chosen, from a record number of entries, by an independent panel of judges which consisted of editors from the industry’s trade journals (Chris Peck, Cabinet Maker; Richard de Melim, Furnishing Report; Paul Farley, Furniture News; and Andrew Kidd, Interiors Monthly) along with Bernard Eaton, MD of Greenwood Retail, and Jessica Alexander, executive director of the NBF.
The awards were announced by Jeremy Vine at the Bed Show’s Gala Dinner at the Telford International Centre last night.
This year’s Bed Manufacturer of the Year award went to Hypnos, which is not only putting in a strong growth performance, and having significantly increased exports in the qualifying period, but is taking an innovative approach to further developing brand awareness and proving itself a worthy benchmark for the higher end of the market.
Runners up were Silentnight and Sweet Dreams, coming very close in a high-calibre category. Silentnight was praised for its highly-professional targeted marketing to meet the needs of every type of customer, individualising and differentiating the offer and working hard to meet the challenge of being a market leader. The judges felt Sweet Dreams also deserved recognition for its investment in UK manufacturing and a strong year-on-year performance, as it branches out into new retail markets.
"This year the competition was stronger than ever, and the quality of entries improves year-on-year, giving the judges an ever-harder task"
Winning Bed Component Supplier of the Year was J De Walleg, a small company manufacturing another innovative product which saves mattressmakers time and money, and which has seen significant export growth in the past 12 months.
Bekaert Textiles was a close runner up and was highly commended in recognition of its research into production and some potentially groundbreaking technology in its development of biodegradable mattress covers.
Scooping the Multiple Retailer of the Year was Furniture Village – for bravely revitalising and reinventing its bed offering and for its leading approach to retailing, it proved to be a worthy winner.
Coming a close second was Bensons for Beds, which demonstrated that, as a business, it is continuing to build on a successful model, with an emphasis on sales training.
Competition was strong for the Independent Retailer of the Year category, with entries from up and down the country. A special mention must go to Peter Betteridge, The Bed Expert, which has been around for over 40 years but never rests on its laurels. In the past year it has invested in marketing sponsorships with local suppliers, a commitment to green policies and a whole new approach to in-house marketing.
But the winner of this year’s award was Surrey Beds, which stood out for all-round effort and quality. Going by the title the Beducator, owner Jerry Cheshire has been embracing online sales and marketing, offering sleep consultations, developing its own YouTube channel, working hard to combat every retailer's nightmare scenario - three months of major roadworks right outside the front door – and still managing to show very respectable overall year-on-year sales growth despite it.
Finally, the Bed E-tailer of the Year award went to Loaf. While its product range is small, the company demonstrates the next phase of online retailing – a more relaxed, ethical approach, selling high-value product and producing spectacular growth.
With a compelling story about its performance over the qualifying period, ever the professional and demonstrating quality at every level (and excellent search engine results) the judges’ Highly Commended choice was Mattress Online.
Peter Keen, chairman of Hypnos, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution to the bed industry. Peter has been at the helm of his family’s manufacturing business for over 30 years, building it into the respected and successful enterprise it is today. But more than that, as NBF president from 2006-2009 he laid the foundations for the vibrant association that it is today, with its Bed Show and Gala Dinner and Awards, the Code of Practice and now the Sleep Council Sales Academy.
Says Stuart Hibbert, president of the NBF: “Now in their fourth year, the bed industry awards once again showcase the outstanding level of innovation and enterprise that the industry is capable of. This year the competition was stronger than ever, and the quality of entries improves year-on-year, giving the judges an ever-harder task. We are thrilled to recognise such a fantastic set of companies. Well done to our winners!"