Talent spotters scouted the halls for suitable products to be presented to a panel of retailer judges that will include Anna Rigby, Head of Buying Home Accessories, Gifts and Seasonal for the John Lewis Partnership.
Many of this year's successful Gift of the Year companies were exhibiting at the show and spoke enthusiastically about what winning had meant to them. Ursula Heyland, Director of Heyland & Whittle, whose Mini Reed Diffuser and Votive Candle Set won the Home Fragrance category, says, "It's selling very well and Gift of the Year has certainly helped. I remember Sebastian Conran, who presented the awards, saying that people like buying into success, so this is something that we try to promote. We're very proud and have the certificate on our stand. He's right, people do buy into it and they love it."
Delighted winner Kerri Middleton, Founder and Managing Director of Busy B - which took the Stationery prize for its Weekly Planner Pad - said that its Gift of the Year success had given the product great publicity. She added, "I think this award gives retailers confidence to buy into the product, and sales show that their customers love it too. Many customers comment and congratulate us when they see the winner logo on the product and our marketing material. It's a real endorsement of our company and the quality and cleverness of our products."
Half Moon Bay was a triple winner, claiming the Branded/Character and Hot Novelty Awards for its Cadbury Roses Puzzle and the Kitchen and Dining prize for the McDougall's Flour Shaker. Ben Craddock, Marketing Manager for the company, says, "Gift of the Year has certainly helped to sell those products which won their categories and, in the case of the Cadbury Roses Puzzle, it boosted sales of our Jelly Babies puzzle too." Half Moon Bay promoted its Gift of the Year successes in various ways, including the use of special stickers for the products, which Ben says has really helped retailers. Julie Holmes, Managing Director of Wild-Olive - winner of the Bath, Body and Spa category with its Luxury Bath Melts - was enthusiastic about the publicity that the award had brought her company, and added, "Apart from your own customers, it's one of the few endorsements that you receive and is an indication of whether you're on the right lines or not. Gift of the Year gave me a real lift six years ago when we were highly commended. Wild-Olive was then a brand new company and we needed feedback. It told us that we were doing something right." The business was subsequently shortlisted another four times before winning.
Marina Bolin, Owner and Founder of Bolin Webb, admitted to being very emotional when her company won the Premium and Luxury category with the R1 Razor with Stand. "To win in our third year was a fantastic achievement. I'm passionate about this product, but to have somebody else confirming that it's a good thing was lovely. Winning Gift of the Year is another confirmation of who we are - another endorsement."
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