Congratulations to all our finalists of the Gift of the Year competition, which has seen some tough competition across new categories. You can view the finalists on the Gift of the Year website here. The live judging day was a huge success in getting our key Industry judges all together at the Button Factory in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham to view the shortlisted entries.
This year the competition has surpassed previous years with a record-breaking 1098 entries; in 2016 there were 759, which proves that the competition is growing in both size and credibility within the industry, but also in the quality of the products that have been entered, from both members and non-members. “It’s been very exciting for the team to see the entries come in,” said Luke Palmer, the project manager for Gift of the Year. He went on, “and with more first-time entrants than ever before, we were all sure the quality and variety of the products would be top notch, really the most innovative and creative gifts. Everyone in the team had their favourites across all categories, but in the end, it’s about what the judges like!”
Judges were quick to comment on the display and quality of the products which consisted of giant inflatable unicorns to beer for dogs (non-alcoholic of course!), and from LED Dinosaurs to Scented candles. Sarah Ward, Chief Executive of the Giftware Association commented “The quality of the products and entrants this year has been massively impressive; we have worked hard to get as many people to enter and realise the full potential of the competition, and how it can change their business. Where we have seen talent, we have encouraged them to take the plunge and enter.”
The impressive line-up of products in their individual categories were under the scrutiny of our equally impressive line-up of judges consisting of magazine editors such as Charlotte Cowell from Gifts and Greetings Review and Sue Marks, editor of Progressive Gifts, with their in-depth knowledge of the gift industry, as well as key decision makers from the retail world, including Natalie Yates from online store ‘Gifts From Handpicked’ and Nathaniel Mobbs, buyer for ‘The National Gallery’. And new judges added to the competition this year were Gemma Conway from ‘Kleeneze‘ and Chris Leonard, Founder of ‘The London Stationery show‘.
Martin de la Fuente, Ocado’s senior non-food buying manager, was very impressed with the new pet category, stating that he can see all the shortlisted products on specialist Ocado website, Fetch. He also requested access to all of the entrants in the Pet category, which goes to show that even products that weren’t shortlisted are still held in very high regard and is worth entering to get your product viewed by a marker-shaping senior buyer.
Jane Hudson, buyer for Qwerkity, commented “the products on display this year are of a much higher quality and it has actually been hard to find stand out winners in some of the categories, it’s a great way to get your products in front of some great people”
Jarrold of Norwich buyer, Suzy Abel, said “there was a lot more innovation and a broader, more interesting mix of suppliers this year; I’ve found some great things 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”
The general consensus among the judges that this year has seen an increase in the quality of products on display and also the range of products on display. The Judges’ Choice award was a harder decision than ever with stand-out products across all the categories. It was also nice to see a new selection of judges with a fresh pair of eyes looking over the new and innovative range of products.
The actual winners from the finalists will be announced on Sunday 5th February 2017 at Spring Fair, which everyone is welcome to attend to see the crowning achievement of this year’s impressive for Gift of the year Competition. The finalist will also be displayed in our very own Gift of the Year section at Spring Fair. Thank you to everyone who has entered and has been shortlisted, we hope to see you again when competition opens up in July.