Six bed businesses, from a shortlist of finalists chosen by an independent panel of judges, celebrated as they scooped the top accolades 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 Sussex Beds for NBF Retail Champion of the Year.
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 comic and writer, Jo Caulfield, and was attended by more than 350 guests from the industry. The awards, now in their 11th year, recognise bed manufacturers, suppliers and retailers representing the 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,” says David Moffitt, president of the NBF.
Bed Product and Component Product of the Year were judged by: Paul Farley, editor in chief, 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 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 the 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, which 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 of being 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 that 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 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 ecommerce 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.