BETA celebrates the industry's best!

The industry turned out in style to celebrate and reward the winners of the 2018 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 22 January. These coveted awards were presented to companies and individuals considered to have made outstanding contributions to the trade.

The evening began in elegant fashion with a champagne reception before guests sat down to a delicious dinner. This was followed by a disco courtesy of Keratex Hoofcare and plenty of snap-happy fun in a party photo booth. A fundraising raffle brought in £1,568 for the Riding for the Disabled Association with a wonderful array of prizes, including two tickets to a West End show of choice from BETA International, four member tickets to Hickstead from Ceris Burns Equestrian and a Bettys hamper from BETA.

“The BETA Business Awards, as always, are fiercely contended, with the spirit of competition running extremely high,” said the trade association’s executive director, Claire Williams. “We had an exceptionally strong field of finalists and deciding on the ultimate winners was never going to be easy. However, after much consideration by our independent judges and an exhaustive selection process, we are extremely pleased to have found some incredibly worthy winners and our congratulations go to them all.”

The winners of the 2018 BETA Business Awards are... 

Winner: Charlotte Bilbie, Tower Farm Saddlers, Rugby, Warwickshire
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 the winner: “Charlotte came across as a knowledgeable, well-informed, dedicated and focused member of the team. I would be delighted if she were a member of my staff.”

Winner: Patrick Robertson, Allen & Page
This award rewards excellence in product and customer knowledge. Retailer nominations were followed by votes and an interview with the finalists.
After interviewing Patrick, a judge said: “His enthusiasm for our industry, the people and the horses in it echoed clearly throughout his conversation, as did his passion to help his clients and support his products.”


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 15 hours or less a week on social media activity and those who spend more than 15 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
15 Hours and Under

Winner: Simple System Horse Feeds
Judges felt the company had a well-balanced approach to its social media, with lots of original content and some sound advice, sparking plenty of conversation and engagement. The brand had clearly built up a strong reputation on social media for providing nutritional information that could be trusted.
Over 15 Hours

Winner: Horseware Products
Judges liked the use of stunning imagery throughout the brand's extensive and very active social media platforms. There was great use of video, with films ranging from short documentaries on up and coming riders to those on manufacturing with some really cheeky clips of considerable mass appeal.

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 the winner: “Shires has wonderful old-fashioned values, including honesty and helpfulness!”  A voting retailer added: “Without question, Shires is the most reliable and professional supplier that we deal with. Year in, year out, they give exceptional service, keep us abreast of any changes and rectify any issues very quickly.”


Winner: Bramham International Horse Trials
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: said of Bramham International Horse Trials: “They are ultra-professional in all aspects. It would make our life so much easier if more organisers could be as diligent and understanding of tradestands as those at Bramham.”

This award, for tack shops and feed merchants, is divided into two categories – Equestrian Retail Store and Online/Mail Order Retailer. The award received nominations from more than 1,000 individuals for over 150 companies. The final decision is based on the number of nominations, mystery shop visits and incognito calls.

Equestrian Retail Store
Winner: Houghton Country – Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland
Runner-up: Westleigh's Saddlery & Country Clothing – Ramsden Bellhouse, Essex

One of the nominators described the winner as having “a fantastic selection, very helpful staff, a fabulous new store and website – it's horse heaven!”  A judge said: “It was the best store in terms of being modern, clean and bright, with good parking. Staff were approachable, understood my needs and pitched at the right level. Service was overall very professional and yet still personal.”

Online/Mail Order Retailer
Winner: Feedmark
Runner-up: Houghton Country
“The staff are so knowledgeable and helpful, and always provide solid advice ,” said one Feedmark nominator. Judges added: “We liked the well-designed and uncluttered site, which made it easy to find relevant information, select products and order. There was good communication throughout the order process and refunds were fast and efficient.”

Winner: TopSpec Equine
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: “They took time to listen and reply, and provided clear advice, with a good level of detail that was simply outstanding.”

Winner: Dengie Crops
This award is presented to the company that has achieved sustained increases in export activity over a period of three years.
A judge said: “Dengie's attention to detail in planning its export development was impressive. It focuses time and resources to identify key partners and works to foster support and grow them and their markets. It also cleverly invests in its export staff in the UK to ensure their knowledge and skills equip them to develop the market, a fact that is clearly revealed in its impressive growth in export sales.”

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. It is divided into two categories – Amateur Rider, to reward those who do not make a living from their competitive riding, and Professional.

Amateur Rider
Winner: Georgie Wood
Nominator Simple System Horse Feeds said: “Georgie is much more than a sponsored rider – she truly believes in our feeding system and was using it long before our partnership began. We enjoy working together to improve the company, the trade and sport. Georgie is a dedicated member of the equestrian industry and we are proud to work with her.”

Professional Rider
Winner: William Fox-Pitt
Nominator Musto said: “William goes above and beyond expectations in everything he does. His open manner and friendly personality make it easy to communicate what Musto needs and helps to enhance and develop our products, brand and the industry. He is a true spokesman for the sport and the trade.”

Winner: Malcolm Ainge
Malcolm is the founder of Shires Equestrian Products and retailer own brand Bridleway Equestrian. His love of horse and all things equestrian is a life-long passion and something that strongly influenced his career path. He hunted until recently and, in addition to being master of the Clifton-on-Teme Hunt, he has also served as chairman and treasurer.
Malcolm started Shires Equestrian from humble beginning, taking a £200 loan to buy stock that he sold at cattle markets and racecourses. As the years went by, this tiny business grew to manufacture its own products, employ staff and move into large premises. Today, the business is a major player on the world stage, with a huge base in Leominster, Herefordshire, and its own factory in China, and distribution centres in Ireland and North America.

Shires Equestrian has become just what Malcolm wanted – a trusted household brand that makes horse riding accessible to all. It's still a family business, too, employing Malcolm's son Stuart, daughter Louise and nephew Marcus Cridland. In fact, Stuart and Marcus took over as joint managing directors at the start of 2017, with Malcolm handing over the reins to become chairman, a role that sees him still travelling to the Shires offices and visiting overseas customers.
His concern for the environment and the impact our industry has on it led to Malcolm’s involvement with the World Wildlife Fund. He backs the organisation's Ganges leather project alongside retail giants such as Tesco, Next and John Lewis. Together, supporters of this crucial initiative seek to raise awareness among leather buyers around the world of the negative impact that the Indian tanning industry has on the River Ganges.

Contact: Deborah Hayward, BETA Press Officer
Telephone: 01937 587062/01765 635314
Mobile: 07812 374264

23 January 2018