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Newcomers light up Gift of the Year Awards as
Birdy range scoops coveted Judges’ Choice prize
Companies that entered The Giftware Association’s prestigious Gift of the Year competition for the first time emerged as winners of almost half the categories at the 2013 awards – including The Judges’ Choice prize sponsored by Spring Fair International.
At a special ceremony at the NEC attended by finalists, judges, GA Retail members and sponsors at the close of the opening day of Spring Fair International 2013 (Sunday, February 3), Birmingham Assay Master, Michael Allchin, handed this coveted award – for the outstanding product across the 17 categories – to Cubic Products for its Birdy Ceramics range.
As part of The Judges’ Choice prize, the company will also be given a free stand at Autumn Fair International by the competition’s headline sponsor, i2i Events Group, organiser of Spring Fair and Autumn Fair.
The remarkable performance of newcomers to the competition saw them either winning or highly commended in 13 categories.
Cubic Products also triumphed in Kitchen and Dining, which saw fellow debutant Morrigan highly commended.
There was a clean sweep, too, for first-time entrants in Body, Mind and Soul where the Ottoman Scent Company triumphed with its Apple Shaped Soap and beefayre took both highly commended places.
It was the same story in Card and Wrap, with Hallmark Cards winning with Grandson’s 1st Birthday Noah’s Ark Card and Cards for Art’s Sake and firstname.lastname@example.org commended.
Elite Gift Boxes, also new to Gift of the Year, won the Garden and Outdoor Living category for its Matthew Rice Large Deep Garden Tray with Handles, while fellow debutant giftinatin was highly commended.
There was success for newcomers in Home Accessories – won by My Place Maps for The Bath Map Cushion, with Kakkoii highly commended – and Made in UK, where Bluebell 33 took the big prize for its Typography for Tables offering. First-time entrant Penrose Products won Premium/Luxury with its Penrose Apaca Pillow, and the company was also highly commended in Eco Friendly.
Other debutants highly commended were Creative 7 (Gifts for Men), CariandCo (Kids), Say It Personally (Occasions), Life Canvas: Parragon Books (Stationery) and Cheatwell Gifts & Games (Under £10).
Spring Fair visitors will be able to view all the shortlisted products throughout the show by visiting the Gift of the Year Show House and Garden in Hall 7 (Stand B04/C03) and the additional showcase in Hall 6 (Stand T50) alongside the Trend Briefings and Seminar Theatre.
One of the judges, Henri Davis – whobuys stationery and greeting cards for The National Trust’s shops – commented: “There is a real mix this year – a lot of good, new product and suppliers we haven’t seen before.”
She was surprised by the strength of some categories, including Kids; thought there were some “lovely pieces” in Body, Mind and Soul, and found Card and Wrap “quite refreshing” as many of the products were not from mainstream publishers.
“And in Stationery we have seen virtually all new companies in the market this year and that is quite exciting.”
Gifts for Men was introduced as a new category and Ronnie Barnard, owner of Dartmouth independent shop Gifts for Gentlemen, was drafted onto the panel of judges for his expertise.
He said of the shortlisted entries: “There is some good men’s product for all different age groups. The real test for the retailer is that ranges aren’t just pitched at one type of person.”
Ronnie cited The Ted Baker Collection from Wild and Wolf – the winner – as “a very good seller that really hits the nail on the head”. He also liked the highly commended e-Kitch Cocktail Gift Set with 1600+ Recipe Database from Creative 7.
Fellow judge Jane Hudson, buying director of Presents for Men, said much of the product in Gifts for Men was “very new” and there was a good range. The Kids’ category was strong and she thought packaging had improved, citing Body, Mind and Soul where it had been particularly innovative – a view shared by Henri Davis.
Brian Wiseman, owner of the Present Company home and gift shop in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, believed the entries indicated “an increasing interest in nostalgia” and said that some suppliers had “thought hard about packaging” to give familiar products a lift. The cards and stationery items shortlisted this year were “more interesting”.
Another judge, Peter Burridge, owner of the Montepellier Gallery in Stratford-upon-Avon, agreed with Brian and Henri Davis that retro products were “still a big thing” and added: “Products are relatively cautious, with suppliers maybe twisting the packaging just a bit to make it a little bit sharper.” The London Underground Children’s Play Tent from The Monster Factory – which won the Kids category – particularly appealed to him.
Nat Mobbs, buyer for The National Gallery, had noticed an increase in the number of products that linked with the internet or apps. He liked the shortlisted pop-up cards, citing one from Hallmark which proved to be the winner of the Card and Wrap category.
Isabel Martinson, chief executive of The GA, commented: “More and more companies now appreciate that Gift of the Year success leads to increased sales and a higher profile. We are really pleased to see suppliers that are new to the competition giving established entrants a run for their money and, in many cases, coming out on top.
“Gift of the Year provides suppliers with a focus and this leads to the development of products that retailers want to sell because they are judged by their peers to be the best. This can only be good for the industry.”
Louise Young, Managing Director, Retail, for i2i Events Group, the headline sponsor, said: “We are delighted that the majority of companies who have been successful this year – including many that are new to the competition – have chosen to exhibit at Spring Fair.
“This gives the winners and those who have been highly commended the opportunity to show their highly regarded products at Britain’s premier exhibition – not only at a time when they are at their hottest but when UK and overseas buyers are also looking for something that will give them that vital competitive edge in the coming year.
“Gift of the Year now has an inescapable cachet and we are delighted to be associated with the competition.”
The GA is celebrating the success of winners, with product and company photos on www.giftoftheyear.co.uk and Facebook and Twitter.
Gift of the Year 2013 winning and highly commended products are as follow:
The Judges’ Choice, sponsored by Spring Fair International: Winner, Birdy Ceramics Range (Cubic Products)
Body, Mind and Soul, sponsored by Giles Healthcare:Winner, Apple Shaped Soap (Ottoman Scent Co); highly commended, English Garden Collection (beefayre); highly commended, Waggledance Happy Collection (beefayre)
Branded/Character, sponsored by The GA’s Legal Helpline Steeles Law: Winner, Tetris Light (Paladone Products); highly commended, EAMES Office 4-Cup Espresso Gift Set (Whitbread Wilkinson/W2 Products); highly commended, Cadbury Wrapper Storage Tin (Half Moon Bay)
Collect It, sponsored by GA Costwatch: Winner, Mr Ringneck Pheasant (Dora Designs); highly commended, Old Tupton Ware Seaside Collection (Widdop Bingham); highly commended, Jubilee Gifts (The Original Metal Box Company)
Eco Friendly, sponsored by T H March: Winner, Animal Felt Slippers (Sew Heart Felt); highly commended, FSC Certified Beech Honer Board (T&G Woodware); highly commended, Penrose Apaca Pillow (Penrose Products)
Fashion Jewellery and Accessories, sponsored by The Assay Office Birmingham: Winner, Zip Earphones (ThumbsUp!); highly commended, Why Not Collection (Disaster Designs); highly commended, VW Washbags (The Monster Factory)
Garden and Outdoor Living, sponsored by Melville Exhibition Services: Winner,Matthew Rice Large Deep Garden Tray with Handles (Elite Gift Boxes); highly commended, Garden Tin for Her (giftinatin); highly commended, London Underground Children’s Play Tent (The Monster Factory)
Home Accessories, sponsored by Progressive Gifts & Home Worldwide as Primary Magazine Sponsor : Winner, The Bath Map Cushion (My Place Maps); highly commended, Kakkoii WOW Speaker (Kakkoii); highly commended, iTap (ThumbsUp!)
Hot Novelty, sponsored by GA Copywatch: Winner,Silly Socks (Bluw); highly commended, Secret Agent Alarm Clock (ThumbsUp!); highly commended, Bubble Wrap Costume (ThumbsUp!)
Kids, sponsored by Ravensden: Winner, London Underground Children’s Play Tent (The Monster Factory); highly commended, 24 Sleeps til Christmas Personalised Book (Signature Gifts); highly commended, Be Safe + Be Seen – Reflective Accessories (Cari and Co)
Kitchen and Dining, sponsored by Autumn Fair International:Winner, Birdy Ceramics Range (Cubic Products); highly commended, Tea Towels and Gauntlets (Morrigan); highly commended, Ecologie (Gift Republic)
Stationery, sponsored by the NEC: Winner, Snap Sticks Photo Album (Wrap Artists); highly commended, Horrible Histories Giftware Collection (Elgate Products); highly commended, The Story of Me and My… (Life Canvas – Parragon Books)
Card and Wrap: Winner, Grandson’s 1st Birthday Noah’s Ark Card (Hallmark Cards); highly commended, Goose Greeting Cards (Cards for Art’s Sake); highly commended, Twinkle Twinkle Birthday Cards (email@example.com)
Gifts for Men: Winner,Ted Baker Stag and Brogue Collection (Wild and Wolf); highly commended, Dual SIM Case for iPhone 4 (ThumbsUp!); highly commended, e-Kitch Cocktail Gift Set with 1600+ Recipe Database (Creative 7)
Made in UK: Winner, Typography for Tables – Table Mats and Coasters (Bluebell 33); highly commended, Made in England Collection, from Wax Lyrical (Wax Lyrical); highly commended, Calverts Guide to the British (that company called if)
Occasions: Winner, Decadent Decs (Talking Tables); highly commended, Sunshine Bouquet (Say it Personally); highly commended, Wedding Favours (Heyland & Whittle)
Premium/Luxury: Winner, Penrose Apaca Pillow (Penrose Products); highly commended, Looking Good (Thabto); highly commended, Hand Painted Finest Bone China Bowls (CHH Design)
Under £10: Winner, Scrabble Keyrings (Wild and Wolf); highly commended, Penguin Popper (Cheatwell Gifts & Games); highly commended, Recipe Mugs (Bluw)
Further information from Alan Monahan: tel 01785 824901; 07710 437789(m)
For product images contact Amanda Wilkins: tel 0121 237 1105
3 February 2013
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