Gifts Today magazine

Award for Hinchcliffe and Barber ceramics

The Stoke-on-Trent produced Hinchcliffe and Barber Songbird Grey Ceramics from My GiftsTrade was winner of The Judges' Choice prize in the Gift of the Year Award at Spring Fair 2015

The Giftware Association’s prestigious Gift of the Year 2015 competition attracted the highest number of entries in recent memory and also sparked lively debate among this year’s judges.

None more so than when it came to selecting the winner of The Judges’ Choice prize, sponsored by Spring Fair, which was awarded to the Stoke-on-Trent produced Hinchcliffe and Barber Songbird Grey Ceramics (picured) from My GiftsTrade.

At a special ceremony at the NEC, attended by finalists, judges, GA Retail members and sponsors at the close of the opening day of Spring Fair 2015 (Sunday 1 February), internationally renowned product designer and Gift of the Year ambassador Sebastian Conran presented this coveted prize – for the outstanding product in the competition – and the awards to the winners of all 20 categories.

As part of The Judges’ Choice prize, My Gifts Trade will also be given a free stand at Autumn Fair by the competition’s headline sponsor, i2i Events Group, organiser of Spring Fair and Autumn Fair.

GA chief executive Isabel Martinson commented: “The 2015 competition has been a memorable one. We again strengthened our team of judges so that it would be representative of retailers of all shapes and sizes. And our suppliers have again stepped up to the plate to present a diverse array of innovative and beautifully designed products.”

Louise Young, Divisional Director Retail of i2i Events Group, said: “The Gift of the Year Awards co-hosted by Spring Fair creates a unique and significant commercial opportunity for those winners during the fair.

“And I am particularly thrilled that ceramics made in The Potteries have won The Judges’ Choice award. Buyers will be able to order them at Spring Fair, where many other companies who have been successful in this year’s competition are also exhibiting, giving buyers immediate access to next season’s best sellers.”

On the tabletop front, T&G Woodware’s CrushGrind Optic Mills claimed the Kitchen and Dining prize; while the Judges’ Choice winner My Gift Trade collected the Made in UK award for The Hinchcliffe and Barber Songbird Grey Ceramics. Highly commended was HOST Chill Cooling Pour Spout (Uberstar); and the Drinks Cooler Range (Parlane International).

New judge Anna Rigby, the John Lewis Partnership’s Head of Buying, Home Accessories, Gifts and Seasonal, commented: “The category that stood out for me overall was Made in UK. I think it had the best quality as a group and I particularly liked the Hinchcliffe and Barber ceramics.”

Here, she also favoured the Rustic Welsh Ash Chopping Board from Treat Gifts, which was also entered in Eco-Friendly. “The fact that you can personalise it and that it’s eco-friendly and made in the UK fits with the current trends we are finding regarding demand.”

Richard Barker, of Dorset Retail, who has four shops, commented: “There were some very good innovative products. What I like is where a company takes something traditional and makes it into something genuinely different.”

So which companies had achieved this? “T&G Woodware’s salt and pepper set looked original and stylish. Wild & Wolf’s Ridley’s Games were made special by very clever packaging and Burgon & Ball’s gardening gloves turned a mundane object into a desirable gift,” he said.

Martin de la Fuente, Ocado’s senior buying manager of non-food products – another new judge – thought the gift and home categories were “very well presented”.

Simon Woolgrove, senior buyer for Achica, noted that there was “quite a lot of nostalgia around that is reflected in packaging, but not one colour or one look that covers the judging room, which is quite surprising”.

He commented: “Some of the garden products and jewellery looked quite nice and I loved the terrarium in Premium/Luxury.” He also thought Gift Republic’s Mr Men growing range in Garden and Outdoor Living and Branded/Character was “a good way of getting kids to grow things in the garden”.

Several judges believed that while a number of the products had appeal, their price points were unrealistically high and therefore stood little chance of winning or being highly commended in their category.

The GA is celebrating the success of winners, with product and company photos on and, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Gift of the Year 2015 winning and highly commended products are:

The Judges’ Choice, sponsored by Spring Fair: Winner, Hinchcliffe and Barber Songbird Grey Ceramics (My Gifts Trade)

Body, Bath and Spa: Winner, Waggledance Collection (Beefayre); highly commended, Compact Lenses (That Company Called If); highly commended, Modern Apothecary Candles (Stone Glow Candles)

Branded/Character: Winner, Fascinations Star Wars 3D Metal Construction Kits (Professor Puzzle); highly commended, Rubik’s Cube Light (Paladone Products); highly commended, RSPB Singing Birds (Ravensden)

Card and Wrap: Winner, FORM (The Art File); highly commended, Speedy Gift Wrap for Awkward Shaped Gifts (Lux-Wrap); highly commended, Coaster Cards (The London Studio)

Commemorative and Collectable Gifts: Winner, Personalised Brass Travellers Compass (Treat Gifts); highly commended, National Geographic Picture Playing Cards (That Company Called If); highly commended, Iconic Bookchairs (Thinking Gifts)

Eco-Friendly, sponsored by T H March: Winner, Felt Animal Puppets (Sew Heart Felt); highly commended, Building Blocks (Lanka Kade); highly commended, WeWOOD Kappa Chocolate (WeWOOD UK)

Fashion Accessories: Winner, Love the Glove (Burgon & Ball); highly commended, Compact Lenses (That Company Called If); highly commended, Collier Campbell Shoulder Bag (Quintessential)

Fashion Jewellery: Winner, Branch Out (Martick Jewellery); highly commended, Keep Me Jewellery (Keep Me Jewellery); highly commended, WeWOOD Kappa Chocolate (WeWOOD UK)

Festive and Seasonal: Winner, Skeleton Crew (Talking Tables); highly commended, Reusable Gift Box Crackers – Hellebore design (Keep This Design); The Great Egg Hunt (Talking Tables)

Garden and Outdoor Living, sponsored by GES: Winner, Citronella Wood Wick Patio & Picnic Candles (Enigma); highly commended, Sophie Conran Raspberry Collection (Burgon & Ball); highly commended, Milk Bottle with Straw (Parlane International)

Gifts for Men: Winner, Battery-powered Paper Planes (The Lagoon Group); highly commended, Ridley’s Games Room (Wild & Wolf)); highly commended, Gentlemen’s Hardware (Wild and Wolf)

Home Accessories, sponsored by Progressive Gifts & Home Worldwide as Primary Magazine Sponsor: Winner, Vintage Light Bulb (Amber Bright Creations); highly commended, Goat Flower Vase (Quail Designs); highly commended, Woodland Trophy Hooks (Transomnia)

Home Fragrance, sponsored by the NEC: Winner, Modern Apothecary Candles (Stone Glow Candles); highly commended, Art Collection Lime & Mandarin (Stone Glow Candles); highly commended, Fired Earth Earl Grey and Vetivert Large Twin Wick (Wax Lyrical)

Hot Novelty: Winner, Rubik’s Cube Light (Paladone Products); highly commended, Comedy Bandana (Bluesky Designs); highly commended, King for the Day (NPW)

Kids, sponsored by Ravensden: Winner, Animal Toothbrush Holders (j-me); highly commended, Takes and Adders (House of Marbles); highly commended, RSPB Small Singing Birds (Ravensden)

Kitchen and Dining, sponsored by Autumn Fair: Winner, CrushGrind Optic Mills (T&G Woodware); highly commended, HOST Chill Cooling Pour Spout (Uberstar); highly commended, Drinks Cooler Range (Parlane International)

Made in UK: Winner, Hinchcliffe and Barber Songbird Grey Ceramics (My Gifts Trade); highly commended, Spode Delamere Rural (Portmeirion Group); highly commended, Victor’s Drinks – Ciders and Ales (Victor’s Drinks)

Occasions, sponsored by E.ON: Winner, Photo Booth Prop Range (Ginger Ray); highly commended, Blossom and Brogues (Talking Tables); highly commended, Christmas Origami (The Lagoon Group)

Premium/Luxury: Winner, Cassini Terrestrial MOVA Globe (Turtletech Design); highly commended, BassBuds 24 Carat Gold Collection (Electro Box); highly commended, New Supersize Aztec Gem Terrarium (The Urban Botanist)

Stationery, sponsored by Henri Davis: Winner, Ted Baker Ladies’ Stationery (Wild & Wolf); highly commended, Meal Planner (Busy B); highly commended, Set of 36 Pencils Mr Badger (Rex International)

Under £10: Winner, Animal Toothbrush Holders (j-me); highly commended, Essential Tools (Burgon & Ball); highly commended, Line Markers (Thinking Gifts)

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