BETA Celebrates the Best!

Some of the best-known names in the equestrian industry gathered to celebrate the winners of the 2019 BETA Business Awards, which were announced during the British Equestrian Trade Association's annual Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham, on Monday 21 January.

These highly prized awards were presented to companies and individuals judged to have made outstanding contributions to the trade. Winners collected their trophies at this important and eagerly anticipated event in the equestrian calendar.

Gala Dinner guests were treated to a champagne reception and three-course dinner before dancing the night away with a disco provided by Keratex. Fun followed in the BETA Party Photo Booth and a BETA raffle was successful in raising £1,144 for the Riding for the Disabled Association.

“A great sense of excitement and anticipation has been building since nominations first opened for the awards, so we were delighted to be able to announce the winners at last,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “The industry has played a hugely important role in supporting the awards and we would like to thank our sponsors and all those who have taken part. We would also, of course, like to congratulate our winners, who have all done so incredibly well to have their achievements recognised in this way.”

The winners of the 2019 BETA Business Awards are... 

Winner: Jennifer Mitchell, David Conchie Saddlery, Carnoustie, Angus
This award recognises the employee showing initiative, excellence in customer service, product knowledge and commitment to professional retailing. It is intended for shop-floor employees only, not managers, and nominations were invited from employers or sales representatives. The finalists were interviewed to determine the winner, who received a cash prize of £200, with BETA training vouchers going to her employer.

One of the judges said of Jennifer, who has worked for the same company for the past 30 years: “It was refreshing to find someone who, after many years in the trade, is still eager to provide good service and sound advice. She is a credit to our trade and a very worthy winner.”

Joint runners-up – Kelly Mitchell, of Carrs Billington, Penicuik, Midlothian
                       – Kirstie Arnold-Jones, of Joshua Jones UK, Sturminster Marshall, Dorset

Winner: Anna Bing, Saddlery Brands International
This award rewards excellence in product and customer knowledge. Retailer nominations were followed by votes and an interview with the finalists.
After interviewing Anna, a judge said: “We could see that she is a member of our trade who is truly focused on providing sound knowledge of her subject and has a keen determination to do the job well.”

This award rewards the company that best embraces social media and uses it to powerful effect throughout its marketing strategy. It is divided into two categories – those who spend 20 hours or less a week on social media activity and those who spend more than 20 hours on it. The judging panel considered application, presentation, innovation and use, originality of content, compelling nature of presence, interaction with audience and accuracy and engagement of information.
20 Hours & Under
Winner: Treehouse Sporting Colours

Judges felt the company's social media was easy to find, pleasant on the eye, enjoyable, informative and full of short but interesting posts and a business-like focus, with its area of specialism shining brightly throughout.
Over 20 Hours
Winner: The Saddle Bank

Judges liked the accessibility of all its social media platforms, regular, informative and interesting posts – with fun ones added to the mix. Each channel worked well together and content was designed to complement rather than clash.

Winner: Shires Equestrian Products
This award goes to the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor judged to offer the best in delivery, customer service, product knowledge and awareness of retailers’ requirements. Nominations from both retailers and suppliers themselves were accepted. Judging of shortlisted companies was followed by a retail members’ vote.

One nominator said of Shires, which has won for the third year running: “It is not often in this day and age that you can have such complete confidence in a company that you deal with.” Another added: “Shires is always so helpful and the bosses are always available to help with any queries.”

Winner: Olympia Horse Show
This accolade acknowledges the event at which tradestands are present that best works with its exhibitors and takes their needs and requirements fully into consideration, and views its tradestands as an integral part of its success.
A trade nominator said of Olympia Horse Show: “Its organising team is great and the show itself has displayed the most improvement and continues to be innovative, with plenty of new and challenging layouts. Stand holders are really looked after and last year we had tea and coffee as well as an exhibitor lounge. Other shows could learn a lot from them. ”

This award, for tack shops and feed merchants, received nominations from more than 1,000 individuals for 150-plus companies. It is divided into two categories – Equestrian Retail Store and Online/Mail Order Retailer – with the choice of winner based on the number of nominations, mystery shop visits and incognito calls.
Equestrian Retail Store
Winner: Ride-Away Equestrian, Sutton-on-the-Forest, North Yorkshire

Runner-up: Tower Farm Saddlers, Rugby, Warwickshire
One of the nominators described the winner as having “excellent product choice and customer service, a clean and organised store, with nothing ever too much trouble”. A judge said: “The advice provided by an assistant was some of the best we received during the judging process and we particularly liked the thoughtful touches such as a tub of Quality Street left on the counter for customers.”

Online/Mail Order Retailer
Winner: GS Equestrian, Paignton, Devon
Runner-up: Houghton Country, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland

“The company offers quick delivery, clear communication and is always willing to help,” said a nominator. “Its website is well-designed and uncluttered, which makes if very easy to find relevant information, select products and order.” Judges added: “We received plenty of helpful advice and experienced easy ordering and returns process, and great customer service.”

Winner: Allen & Page
This accolade goes to the company that offers exemplary service in nutritional advice to customers, both trade and retail. Customer nominations – a record number this year – were followed by incognito telephone calls.
Judges said of the winner: “We were extremely impressed with their attention to detail and explanations that were easily understood and clearly explained. They were engaging, with a genuine interest in the customer – equine and human – and provided follow-up that was nothing short of outstanding.”

Winner: Science Supplements
This award is presented to the company that has achieved sustained increases in export activity over a three-year period.
A judge said: “Export sales and growth are very impressive and indicative of having a good product that they have worked well to position in key markets. I like the fact that they have appointed an export manager, partnered with leading feed companies in Germany and Finland, and adapted product packaging for certain markets, as well as developing new products for them.” 

This award acknowledges sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade and is presented to those who have participated fully in building a relationship with their sponsor to yield good results for both.
Winner: David Britnell
Nominator Red Horse Products said: “Our relationship with David has far exceeded our expectations. He has gone out of his way to shine a light on the products he believes in. In our first year, thanks to David, we saw our brand trot down the centre line at Bramham, Barbury and Gatcombe, which was a thrill in itself – and his participation in the Event Rider Masters series really amplified our brand exposure. In addition to this support, he also offers teaching to Red Horse Products competition winners, social media interaction, videos of the products in use and word-of-mouth promotion to service providers and clients alike.”

Winner: Mark Romain, MBE
This year’s BETA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Mark Romain, was honoured for the huge contribution he has made to the saddlery industry. He has contributed to the training of hundreds of apprentices and more than 1,500 saddlery course candidates. He has also visited saddlery businesses all over England, providing technical advice and on-site recruitment, as well as monitoring and assessing training programmes.

In 1986, after 13 years working at the bench for saddlery specialist Sydney Ingram & Son in Salisbury, Mark became saddlery and leatherwork adviser to the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, which later became the Rural Development Commission and subsequently the Countryside Agency.

In 2000, he and his wife, Dawn, set up the Saddlery Training Centre, which today has an internationally renowned reputation as one of the leading sources of saddlery training and is the only centre in the UK to provide the government’s Modern Apprenticeship Scheme.

He has served on the SMS executive committee since 1991, becoming president in 1999, and in 2011 received the society’s own Fellowship. In 2014, Mark was made an MBE for services to the saddlery industry and saddlery training in the UK and overseas.

Contact: Deborah Hayward, BETA Press Officer
Telephone: 01765 635314/07812 374264