We were delighted to help judge the Gift of the Year 2017 Awards, which received a record-breaking 1,085 entries. This easily surpassed the total for the 2016 competition which, at 759, was already the largest recorded. Entries were received from some 90 companies, including both GA members and non-members.
The Giftware Association chief executive Sarah Ward and her team have been the driving force behind this surge in entries, which comes after a busy time spent visiting many different trade exhibitions around the country to fully gauge the market.
As well as making the competition even more relevant to suppliers, the GA have encouraged businesses across the industry to take part, alongside GA members. “We have been out and about at a number of autumn trade events spotting talent and urging those with strong, new, products to take the plunge and enter,” Sarah commented.
Together with the other judges, which included a host of market-shaping retail buyers and fellow magazine editors, we helped select the next batch of winners and will be thrilled to see them publicly unveiled on Sunday February 5 at Spring Fair from 18.00.
There were two new categories for this year – Pet Gifts and Food & Drink – and many judges remarked that the shortlist was better than ever with a greater variety of entrants.
Zoe York, who runs online business Squashed Tomato, said there was “lots of variety this year and certain categories, such as Garden Gifts, were really strong. I sell many different kinds of products and I’m looking for newness and fresh ideas. The Home Fragrance category was also really nice and showed how important packaging is.”
The judges agreed that the Awards are such a fantastic accolade that we weren’t quite sure why so many industry suppliers failed to enter. Where else can designers and manufacturers get their chosen products in front of so many leading lights of the retail world in one handy swoop, not to mention a strong contingent of trade press committed to promoting the event and its winners?
Jarrolds of Norwich buyer, Suzy Abell said: “There was a lot more innovation and a broader, more interesting mix of suppliers this year, I’ve found some great things here today but I’m surprised – given the huge amount of fantastic product out there – that more aren’t entering. It’s such a fantastic opportunity.”
John Lewis home and gift collections buyer, Sara Allbright, expressed similar sentiment, saying: “It’s my second time judging and I’ve definitely noticed a difference this year, there’s far more to choose from and new people have entered, it’s a really good step forward. I think more suppliers should get involved, though, as it’s a great showcase and accolade for someone to come out on top amongst their peers. Then you get so much promotion and your products are in front of so many retailers and journalists.”
“Becky Page, who buys housewares and volume products for Scotts of Stowe, said of the judging: “It’s great to be focused here and see things all in one place. I saw products I’d like to stock and might otherwise have missed, it’s a great way for companies to highlight things to retailers. I don’t know why more people don’t enter, especially given the challenging economic environment and competitive nature of the industry.”
We thoroughly agree! Watch this space for details of how to enter your hottest new product into next year’s Gift of the Year awards.