Hundreds of retailers and suppliers gathered at the Deansgate Hilton in Manchester last night for the annual Britain’s Best Retailer Awards.
They came to hear which retailers had scooped Gold or Silver across a wide range of categories, all recognising the very best in housewares and home improvement retailing.
In the Britain’s Best Cookshop category it was Trevor Mottram of Tunbridge Wells which took Gold, impressing the judges with “the in-depth knowledge of the owners and team in store” and because “they’ve got a huge range and it’s a delight to go into”.
Silver in this category netted three winners: Tewkesbury Cookshop, Cheltenham Kitchener and Cook to Perfection, Kings Lynn. According to the judges, Tewkesbury Cookshop “take amateurs under their wing”, while Cheltenham Kitchener has “the corporate approach with the cosiness of a cookshop”. And Cook to Perfection “haven’t been around long but they’ve already examples of best practice within the industry”.
In the Britain’s Best Multiple Housewares Retailer category Lakeland took the top accolade of Gold. The judges noted that “it’s always got an eye out for something innovative”, “they listen to their customers and if the customers aren’t happy they’ll do something about it”, and they also thought that “warmth and intelligence has gone into the catalogue”. One judge even said: “My view of a good product is, has it been listed by Lakeland?”
Meanwhile Silver winners were named as Wilkinsons and Kitchen Kapers. The first, said the judges, offers “great value for money, they have some good brands and their home section is miles better than it was”, while another concluded: “They’re on a journey, Wilkinsons: they’ve definitely changed in the last 12 to 18 months”.
At Kitchen Kapers “the clear focus is on staff training so they’re the best they can be for their customers” and “they do have a selection, they don’t just choose one brand and stick with it”.
Scooping Gold as Britain’s Best Independent Department Store was The Snape Maltings – a collection of shops that aims to deliver a one-off shopping experience, and which continues to thrive and grow despite the difficult economic conditions. Said the judges: “It’s a unique shopping experience, without losing sight of the culture and customs of the local area” and “they support the local businesses and crafts – they’re part of the community”.
Three department stores walked away as Silver winners: Pearsons of Enfield, Camp Hopson in Newbury and Philip Morris of Hereford.
Pearsons, said the judges, “target the modern shopper yet retain their family values”, while Camp Hopson, despite the area being developed around it and new competition coming through, “have retained their market share and vision for the store”. It also has “high staff involvement and strong staff loyalty”.
For Philip Morris the staff are the biggest asset, and the store is also introducing a mail order catalogue.
Lakeland triumphed again as a Gold winner when it came to the Britain’s Best Retail Website category. The judges thought the website just does everything right: it looks superb, it’s very easy to navigate, and if you’re a cookery enthusiast, then this is like having a chat with another cookery enthusiast.
Silver winners were B&Q, with its huge range and how-to-do-it guides, Focus DIY, which impressed the judges with the quality of its product descriptions, and Homebase. The judges particularly approved of the way product selections can be filtered by price bands, spec levels and so on.
The Gold winner in the Retail Shooting Star category was named as Cooking Marvellous, which set up an online business in the cellar of its Shrewsbury cookshop in March 2007 – and in the three years since then its online business has rocketed, with £1m sales in sight for the current year.
Silver went to Grosvenor Garden Centre, Haskins Garden Centres and Harts of Stur.
In other categories the winners were as follows. Britain’s Best Hardware Retailer: Gold, Bevans; Silver, Wrights Home Hardware and Nuline Builders Merchants. Britain’s Best Tool Retailer: Gold, Isaac Lord; Silver, The Tool Shop. Britain’s Best Décor Retailer: Gold, SAS Trade & DIY Centre; Silver, Leekes and Masseys. Britain’s Best Security Retailer: Joint Gold, Saxon Security Locks and Access Key & Lock; Silver, North West Keys and Dennis Security Centre; Britain’s Best Garden Retailer: Gold, Fermoy’s Garden Centre; Silver, Hayes Garden World, Scotsdales Garden Centre and Haskins Garden Centres. Britain’s Best DIY Superstore Manager: Gold, Craig Herrett, Homebase; Silver: Maureen Milligan, B&Q, Godwin Allert, Focus and Andrew Kenwrick, Homebase.
Britain’s Best Retailer Awards were sponsored by Charles Bentley, Decco with Fair & Square, Denby Pottery, Dremel, EPE, Momentum, Neat Ideas, Plasti-kote, Sam’s Trade Centre, Stax Trade Centres, Sterling Locks, Urfic and Akzo Nobel.
The awards are organised by HousewaresLive.net and Housewares Magazine along with DIY Week, Hardware & Garden Review and diyweek.net.