Gifts Today magazine

Gift of the Year 2015 launched

What the competition means to winners

The GA’s Gift of the Year 2015 competition was launched at Autumn Fair a few weeks ago. ‘Talent spotters’ scouted the halls for suitable product 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 previously had meant to them.

Ursula Heyland, a director of Heyland & Whittle, whose Mini Reed Diffuser and Votive Candle Gift Set won the Home Fragrance category, commented: “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 are very proud and have the certificate on our stand. And he’s right: people do buy into it and they love it.

“We are entering again this year and I have vowed to win again. The product is a bit of a secret but I think it will be suitable for several categories. I’ve always said that it’s not about the taking part, it’s about the winning!”

“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”.

And she added: “I think this award gives retailers confidence to buy in to 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, said: “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 has really helped retailers”.

Ben added: “We are still deciding what to enter this year, and hopefully we will get another good result.”

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 success in Gift of the Year 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 are on the right lines or not.

“And 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 “so 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 am passionate about this product, but to have somebody else confirming that it is ‘a good thing’ was lovely. I was in tears. Winning Gift of the Year is another confirmation of who we are – another endorsement.”

Marina is planning to enter its newly-launched travel case – suitable for both its ranges of razors – into Gift of the Year 2015.

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