Members of the equestrian industry gathered to honour their own at the 2012 BETA Business Awards. The prestigious business accolades, designed to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to the trade, were presented to winning individuals and companies at the British Equestrian Trade Association’s Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham, on 19 February.
More than 400 guests enjoyed a champagne reception, sponsored by South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB), on arrival, before they settled down to dine. This year’s raffle, in aid of Riding for the Disabled, sported prizes such as a pair of tickets to see the theatre production of War Horse in London, a gold listing in the new British Equestrian Directory and membership tickets for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Everyone was in a generous mood and raised almost £1,200 to boost the charity’s coffers.
Caricaturists circulated among the tables, creating much mirth and amusement as they sketched away. After dinner, fairground games were the order of the day, with a disco for those who wished to dance into the small hours.
“The BETA Business Awards are eagerly anticipated by all sectors of the equestrian industry,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “They are surrounded by a strong spirit of competition and a keen desire to win. The standards of achievement, professionalism and enterprise have been extremely high and I would like to congratulate all the winners and everyone who made it through to the finals.”
The winners of the 2012 BETA Business Awards, announced by Philip Ghazala, are:
HAYGAIN NUTRITIONAL HELPLINE AWARD
Winner: TopSpec Equine, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Runner-up: Allen & Page, Thetford, Norfolk
With an increasing amount of feeds and supplements on the market, giving the trade and consumer more choice than ever, BETA wished to highlight the importance of reliable and accessible nutritional advice.
Nominations were invited from retailers and consumers, and the final judging was based on these and mystery callers posing questions designed to challenge each helpline. TopSpec wins this award for the sixth time!
One nominator said: “The advice I was given was very detailed, with suggestions for a feeding regime fully explained.” An incognito judge added: “The diet recommended was explained step by step, they also went through all the ingredients and I was given a time-frame for improvements.”
EQUINE CAREERS SALES REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Stephen Neale, Battle, Hayward & Bower, Lincoln
Runner-up: Jonathan Canty, Natural Animal Feeds, Monmouth
This award, presented by Equine Careers, recognises excellence in product knowledge and service to retail customers. Nominations were received from retailers, followed by an interview with the finalists.
One of Stephen’s nominators praised his excellent product knowledge and enthusiasm: “He’s a terrific ambassador for his company. If it can be done, it will be done.” A judge added: “Out of all the calls we made, this one was one of the most professionally handled.”
HARRY HALL RETAIL EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Caraleen Light, Brendon Horse & Rider, Brighton, East Sussex
This award is given to the retail employee showing initiative, excellence in customer service, good product knowledge and a commitment to retailing. Caraleen has worked for her employers for five years.
“Caraleen deals with riders in a professional manner and she has extensive product knowledge,” said a nominator. The independent judge added: “If I were looking for a member of staff, I would be very happy if she was selling for me.”
JOULES EQUESTRIAN EVENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: South West Christmas Equine Fair, Contour Exhibitions
This award acknowledges the event (at which trade stands are present) that best works with its exhibitors and takes their requirements and views fully into consideration.
Nominators and judges agreed: “The facilities are excellent and the organisers are first-class. The South West Christmas Equine Fair is the best of all the events we have attended.”
ETN TRADE SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Trilanco, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
Runner-up: Shires Equestrian Products, Leominster, Herefordshire
Judged by the retail trade, this award goes to a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler that offers the best delivery, customer service, product knowledge and awareness of retailer requirements.
“They are an easy company to deal with – they have good stock levels and excellent customer service, and friendly staff with a can do attitude,” said judges and nominators.
SEIB RETAILER OF THE YEAR
This award is divided into four categories – large, medium, small and mail order/Internet retailers. It is presented to those retailers that offer outstanding customer service. Final judging took suppliers’ votes into account, as well as visits by mystery shoppers. The award received more than 4,000 nominations for over 300 companies.
Winner: Wadswick Country Store, Corsham, Wiltshire
Runners-up: Robinsons Country Leisure, Basingstoke, Hampshire, and
Aivly Country Store, Ringwood, Hampshire
Judges and nominators praised Wadswick Country Store for its beautiful presentation and prompt, helpful advice. “They have a fabulous collection of things for horse and rider – there are well-displayed goods and they provide service with a smile,” they said.
Winner: R B Equestrian, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Runner-up: Tower Farm Saddlers, Rugby, Warwickshire
“I wish it was my local store,” said a judge of R B Equestrian, which also won the award last year. “The staff are extraordinarily helpful, friendly and provide knowledgeable service, and they go that extra mile,” added a nominator.
Winner: Iron Horse Equestrian Supplies, Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Runner-up: Equicraft of Backwell, Somerset
This is the third time that Iron Horse Equestrian Supplies has won this award. It was described as a “great shopping experience” and a judge added: “They were attentive, but not pushy, and really knew their stock.”
Mail Order/Internet Retailer
Winner: Supplement Solutions, Preston, Lancashire
Runner-up: Robinsons Country Leisure, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire
A genuine interest in customer queries, fast delivery and a personal service were some of the points highlighted by a judge and nominator. “They are so helpful – they really have a winning formula,” they said.
TSM RIDER AWARD
Winner: Beverley Brightman
This award acknowledges sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade and work hard for their sponsors. An independent panel of judges selected Beverley Brightman as this year’s winner. She is sponsored by Horsehage, Hemp Technology, Sue Carson Saddles and Gravenhorse Feeds.
Beverley started her career as an event rider and worked her way up to 4-star level. She suffered a horrific riding accident but was determined to get back in the saddle, so took up dressage. She now rides at Grand Prix.
“Beverley is keen to help develop new products,” said a nominator. “Through her diligence, professionalism and her undoubted people skills, we continue to enjoy an excellent sponsorship arrangement.”
UKTI EXPORT AWARD
Winner: Bedmax Shavings, Belford, Northumberland.
This award recognises a company that has generated a substantial and sustained increase in export activity over a period of at least three years.
“Bedmax was one company which – in the Olympic year – shouted ‘gold medal’,” explained one judge. “They have demonstrated a model approach to international business, excellent use of support services and a realistic but ambitious attitude to marketing what is clearly a terrific product.’”
BETA TRADE WEBSITE AWARD
Winner: Matchmakers International, Bradford, West Yorkshire
This award celebrates the website considered to be the most informative and useful to retailers. Nominations were made by the trade and the winner, Matchmakers International, was selected by an independent panel of judges.
The company’s website was praised for being colourful, energetic, up to date and easy to use – the ideal tool to see new products and offers.
BETA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Recipients: Tom MacGuinness
This award is presented by BETA to mark an outstanding and significant contribution to the equestrian industry over a long period of time.
When Tom MacGuinness set up his business, Horseware Ireland, in 1985, few could have foreseen what impact this company was destined to have on an industry weighed down by traditional materials and designs.
On returning to Ireland after working as a missionary in South America, he completed his BHS Stage 2 exam and took up eventing – influenced by the fact that his family owned a riding school. When this was forced to close in tough economic times, he decided to set up his own business as a rug manufacturer.
Tom and his wife began making the rugs from his parents’ basement. First off this small “production line” was the Rambo Original – a new line in rugs, with a smaller, improved neck and a money-back guarantee to build customer confidence.
Although horse owners needed a little persuading to try the rugs, within a few years the Rambo Original had proved its worth and become something of an industry standard – as well as a massive seller. Tom has continued to innovate in design, fabrics and products, and he and his company have come a long way over the past 27 years, transforming a dormant sector of the equestrian industry into something radically different from its jute and canvas origins.
Horseware survived a hurricane strike to its operation in North Carolina and a fire that devastated the offices and manufacturing plant in Dundalk, Ireland – leading to a complete rebuild in 2001.The past 10 years has seen massive development, with factories in China and Cambodia, and a new warehouse to cope with extra demand.
Tom has a special relationship with Just World International, an organisation that works with local partners in the developing world to provide basic education, nutrition, hygiene and vocational programmes for children in impoverished communities, including the local community in Cambodia.
Following a trip to Argentina, Tom has recently become hooked on polo and, in the true Tom style of never doing things by halves, the Dundalk polo team was born!
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES…
Contact: Deborah Hayward, BETA International Press Officer
Telephone: 01937 582111