Manchester was the place to be last night as the winners of Britain’s Best Retailer Awards were announced at one of the year’s most prestigious industry events.
Hundreds of retailers and suppliers gathered at the Deansgate Hilton to find out which retailers had scooped Gold or Silver in a host of categories, honouring the very best in housewares and home improvement retailing.
The housewares retailer Lakeland walked away with not one but two Golds in the awards – which drew a record number of entries across the categories.
The housewares chain won in the Britain’s Best Multiple Housewares Retailer category, having put on sales growth of 7% last year despite the recession. It has focused on key categories and increased ranges in both baking and preserving, enjoying sales up nearly 50% in both areas.
Lakeland opened five new stores in 2008 and continued to build on this momentum with four more this year. It has reacted fast to the grow-your-own trend with a new gardening catalogue, it has expanded its gift range to have an offer all year round. It has also introduced in-store demos for the first time.
Silver winners in the category were Kitchen Kapers, Livsstil and Robert Dyas.
Lakeland also took Gold in the Britain’s Best Retail Website category. The interactive website impressed the judges with its visual appeal, ease of use, and enthusiastic approach to its products, and the Lakeland people seem to really care about the products their website offers.
Silver winners were B&Q and The Gardening Club website from The Garden Centre Group (formerly Wyevale).
In the Britain’s Best Independent Department Store category Silver was taken by Philip Morris of Hereford and Webbs of Crickhowell, but it was Camp Hopson of Newbury that walked away with the Gold award.
A recent refit of the long-established store has created a spacious, contemporary environment with sophisticated lighting, improved access and much enhanced fixtures.
Unusually, the Britain’s Best Cookshop category produced two Gold winners.
Cook to Perfection in Kings Lynn opened its doors in June 2008 with no previous retail experience, but can boast massive media coverage, an excellent interactive website and a first-year sales target achieved in less than six months. One of its suppliers described its window displays as the best this side of the West End.
The second Gold winner was Le Lievres, a household name in the Channel Islands, with a high level of display and presentation linked to excellent customer service and, in the half-year to July, sales up by an impressive 39%.
Silver Winners in the category were Coopers of Stortford in Hertfordshire, Countryside Cookware in Kelso and Dinghams, with shops in Salisbury and Winchester.
In the Britain’s Best Hardware Retailer category Pextons of York took Gold, with Silver going to Jan’s Mica Hardware, D&G Hardware of Hampshire and RW Morten of Ilkley, while in Britain’s Best Security Retailer Access Key & Lock of Hampshire took Gold for the second year running. Silver went to Mahjacks of Windsor and Saxon Security Locks of south London.
The judges decided that Britain’s Best DIY Superstore Manager was
Craig Gilmour of Homebase, while Linda Burton of Homebase, Simon Cowling of Wickes, Frank Cox of B&Q and Emlyn Jones of Homebase were awarded Silver.
Gold in the Britain’s Best Garden Retailer category went to Cadbury Garden & Leisure of Congresbury, near Bristol, with Silver being scooped by Bents Garden Centre of Warrington, Fermoy’s Garden Centre of Newton Abbott in Devon and
Shoots Garden Centre of Washington in West Sussex.
Silver awards for Britain’s Best Tool Retailer went to AC Jones of Bradford, Focus DIY
and Mahjacks of Windsor but Taskers of Liverpool was named the Gold winner. And Britain’s Best Décor Retailer was BJ Décor of Lurgan. Silver winners were Decoron of West Bromwich and Taskers.
The last award of the night was for the Retail shooting star of 2009, a category that covers all the retail sectors and recognises those retailers that have done something extraordinary.
Silver Winners were Carpenters of Sandwich, Ocean Builders Supplies in east London and Cordens of Warminster, but the top accolade went to D&G Hardware.
Britain’s Best Retailer Awards were sponsored by Amefa, the British Home Enhancement Trade Association, Spring Fair and Autumn Fair, Crown Paints, Sam’s Trade Centre, Plasti-kote, Stax Trade Centres, Sterling, Rust-Oleum, Decco with Fair & Square, Irwin Industrial Tools, Dulux, Hammerite, Polycell, Cuprinol, Sikkens and International brands ICI Akzo Nobel.
The awards are organised by HousewaresLive.net and Housewares Magazine along with DIY Week, Hardware & Garden Review and diyweek.net.