Manufacturer and distributor Häfele UK announced the winners of its seventh annual Studio Partner Awards, at a circus Big Top-themed event at Warwick Castle.
The Häfele Studio Partner programme is a network of independent kitchen studios, selected by the company, based on customer service, business excellence and growth.
Awards were presented across seven categories, with 17 studios vying to be named the winners.
These included Best Showroom Experience, Best Functional Space, Kitchen Design of the Year, Best Sales and Marketing Initiative, Rising Star and coveted Studio Partner of the Year.
In addition, Häfele also recognised its own sales team, with the category Area Sales Manager of the Year.
Taking top honours at the event, Fareham-based In2 Group was presented the Studio Partner of the Year prize.
The judges said In2 epitomised its Studio Partner programme, with the retailer going above and beyond to understand what their customers want and creating a personalised package to suit their needs.
Best Sales and Marketing Initiative, a new category for 2023, was presented to Duncans of Grantown for its Moy County Fair campaign.
Duncans of Grantown were praised for using Häfele product to its advantage, driving sales and offering a proven return on investment.
While Best Showroom Experience, reportedly one of the most competitive of categories, was won by Regal Kitchens.
Hafele stated Regal stood out for its creativity, as well as use of point of sale, from ‘look inside’ branded stickers, to charity treasure hunts.
Kettle Co. Kitchens won Best Functional Space for its kitchen which offered multi-use storage with easy access and adjustability enabling future proofing.
While Kitchen Design of the Year was awarded to Hugo & Co, with Hafele stating this was the most fiercely contested category.
The design included handmade furniture created by the studio with bespoke timber drawers made through Häfele.Its Rising Star Award, new for 2023, was presented to Alexander Paul Kitchens, which has already developed from Bronze to Silver Studio Partner status.
The kitchen retailer was praised for working in partnership with Häfele to build its business.
Completing the awards programme, Carol Dowling who has worked with the company for over 10 years, was named Hafele ASM of the Year.
Newly-appointed managing director Richard Curtis used the opportunity to thank its Studio Partners, during what has been a challenging time for the business, following a cyber attack earlier this year.
He stated: “I am proud and I’m very honoured to be leading this business. We’ve got some fantastic employees – it’s a great brand – and we have some fantastic customers and I’m looking forward to working with you all in the future.”
Curtis added: “”I would like to thank you all for sticking with us, during that challenging start to 2023.
“Nearly five months have passed since Häfele suffered a cyber-attack and I’m very pleased that we’re now back to next-day delivery.
“I can’t express how grateful we are for your patience and understanding.
“I appreciate it wouldn’t have been easy to get through that time with your customers – it wasn’t for us either – and we’d like to think we’d done the best that we possibly could. But, once again, thank you very much for your support.”
He continued, speaking about the importance of partnerships in a challenging environment: “If we can show that [same] level of support, that level of partnership together, I think we can ride out the next 12-18 months, because there is no doubt it’s going to be a tricky period.”
Commenting on the awards, Richard Curtis said the Häfele Studio Partners Awards had increased in number of entries and quality.
He congratulated its retailers for their achievements over the past year and said it demonstrated the “true” value of a parnership.
Sales director at Häfele UK Gareth Bevan said: “From the calibre of the entries, it is clear that the Häfele Studio Partners are some of the best in the business.
“This year, more than ever, the nominations were fantastically diverse, creative, clever and appealing, and included entries from firms in their infancy, all the way up to the most established.
“Our 2023 winners, as well as the other 11 studios shortlisted, should be enormously proud of their achievements. Congratulations to all.”