Introducing the judges

The Housewares Innovation Awards team would like to extend a huge thanks to all this of year’s amazing judges!

Retailer Judging

Adam Smith

Adam Smith

Marketing Manager, Eddingtons

Prior to joining Eddingtons, Adam worked for companies such as Neptune Home Interiors and Watson Fuels and had spent five years working in the stationery industry for both Pilot Pen and Pentel.

Adam joined Eddingtons at the start of 2016 and this short time he has taken the lead role in developing the company brand identity and marketing materials, along with a major overhaul of the Eddingtons website and introducing a new iPad ordering technology for all of the sales team.

Darren Nickolls

Darren Nickolls

Sales Director, KitchenCraft

Darren started his career in the world of retail in 1990, joining the Fenwick Department Store chain and soon after joined the management training scheme. He spent ten years working his way around the store in sportswear, luggage and toys before finally ending up in cookware with the responsibility of buying tools & gadgets, knives and bakeware.

Darren enjoyed working in such a fabulous industry that when the opportunity arose to join KitchenCraft in 2001, he just couldn’t resist. He spent the first five years working and learning the ropes as an area sales manager, and in 2006 he joined national accounts.

In 2014 Darren gained responsibility for all traditional national accounts, excluding e-commerce, and latterly became UK sales director for both KitchenCraft and Creative Tops.

Helen Simpson

Helen Simpson

Marketing Manager, KitchenAid

Helen has worked in the housewares sector for over 10 years and has been instrumental in the strategy development for some of the UK’s most famous small electrical brands.

As marketing manager of KitchenAid SDA, Helen is responsible for retail marketing initiatives and the coordination of product communications, working alongside the brand team and external PR and social agencies.

Helen joined KitchenAid in 2016 and has already achieved significant results including the launch of the most powerful home blender on the market – the Artisan Power Plus Blender – and the introduction of the Artisan Cold Brew Coffee Market, introduced in response to the latest high street coffee trend.

Kevin Towler

Kevin Towler

Sales Professional in Housewares

Kevin has spent 15 years in the housewares industry as a rep and agent many times over, for high end brands such as Typhoon, Rayware, Imperial, Kuhn Rikon, Charles Viancin, Pyrex and most recently Dexam.

He now works for himself as an agent on behalf of up-and-coming brands to the housewares industry, including Lobster, Ragged Rose and ‘Charlotte Eddington’ – a brand that he is proud to have launched himself this year. Kevin works alongside Katie Holloway (ex-Divertimenti buyer) covering the London/South East area.

Kevin recently appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine With Me’, which he says was an amazing experience, and he is now looking forward to a very interesting 2018.

Louise Ayres

Louise Ayres

Head of National Accounts, DKB Household UK

Louise has been with DKB and the housewares industry for 15 years. She has held various roles during her time with the company, and currently holds the position of head of national accounts.

She is a true foodie and loves nothing better than spending her weekends cooking, be that an Indian meal, homemade pizza or baking a courgette and poppy seed cake for the office.

Patrick Gardner

Patrick Gardner

Managing Director, T&G Woodware

Patrick started selling tabletop and kitchenware before housewares became an industry. Having sold Scandinavian products since 1963, he cast around for a product that he could develop and in 1975 he formed what would become T&G, which has now reached 42 years in business with Patrick still at the helm.

Woodware was and remains the core product but success evolved the company and other products were added, in particular pepper and salt mills and ceramics. Many design awards have been won over the years with ‘form and function’ being the main philosophy in product development. Lasting quality is also a priority when developing new lines, a legacy from his days selling Swedish and Danish products.

Over the years, Patrick Gardner has travelled many miles to find the best factories to produce the designs to meet the quality and reliability criteria, at the same time exporting to 53 countries.

Peter Battersby

Peter Battersby

CEO of Charles Viancin UK & Sales Director of New Soda

Peter is the CEO of the UK subsidiary company of the global brand Charles Viancin. Their sealable silicone lids have become established as a core housewares item in all good cookshops around the UK.

More recently, Peter has become involved with the innovative UK award-winning brand New Soda in the role of sales director. Working with the UK sales force, Peter has developed sales rapidly and also has an international role in creating a network of agents throughout Europe and distributors worldwide.

Rob Blackburn

Rob Blackburn

Head of UK Sales, David Mason Design

Rob has over 25 years’ experience in the housewares sector in sales, marketing, product development and sourcing. His career started at JVL products, with main products being doormats and basketware items.

Following a couple of stops on the way, he ended up at Creative Tops and this is where Rob really fell in love with the industry – in particular the tabletop and gifting sides of the business. For fifteen years he managed to not only learn more about the selling side, but learnt so much more about product development, sourcing and marketing.

Rob now enjoys what he does as much as ever with David Mason Design, and looks forward to many more years in the business.

Anyone who knows Rob will tell you that his main interests are Barnsley Football Club, travel, family and work – although maybe not in that order!

Rob Ingram

Rob Ingram

Director, Root7

After graduating from Brighton University with a pretty useless 2:2 in Media and Information, Rob spent a couple of years travelling and studying. After returning to the UK he spent stints as a sound engineer in a recording studio and selling travel to students. It was then that Rob developed an interest in building websites and selling online, and this connected him with two old friends (strangely both called Rob). Root7 was born and what started mainly as an e-commerce company morphed into distribution and then a product design/manufacturing company.

Rob now spends his time working on Root7 and RT7Digital, a company formed in South Africa to service as a digital consultancy for US and UK clients. When not working, he is usually trying to travel somewhere and will happily spend any spare time drinking wine in France or walking in the Outer Hebrides.

Rob Jones

Rob Jones

Sales Director, Horwood

Rob Jones joined Horwood Homewares as a sales director in early 2017 following successful roles at Miele, Bayer and Dyson.

During his career Rob has spent a lot of time focusing on brand activation through both independent and national retail, and is now keen to see how the housewares category is developing within these areas. Additionally, Rob is an advocate of digital optimisation and is keen to see how successfully hosuewares retailers are interacting with their customer base across this channel.

As with all sectors, Rob feels innovation is key and believes retailers who offer their customers not only a reason to visit but demonstrates innovative ways of retaining their loyalty will achieve success both immediately and in the long term.

Roger Morgan-Grenville

Roger Morgan-Grenville

Director, Dexam

Roger is the business development director of Dexam. After a nine year career in the army, he pursued a career in housewares and during his 31 years in the industry he has personally visited over 300 retail customers.

He has recently been responsible for Dexam’s portfolio of distributorship brands. Outside of Dexam, Roger writes books on sport and has been active in fundraising, principally for military charities.

Tom Basford

Tom Basford

Sales Manager, Grunwerg

Tom Basford is the Sales and Marketing Manager at I.Grunwerg Ltd. He has worked for the award-winning distributor for nearly 15 years, starting as an area sales rep, and has overall worked in the kitchenware industry for nearly 20 years.  

Tom is highly thought of in his field of work, and has impressively expanded the Grunwerg business during his employment. This has shown especially in his last few years where he leads a successful sales and marketing team.

Tony Melia

Tony Melia

Sales Director, Arthur Price

Tony is sales director at Arthur price having joined the business over 7 years ago, and has over 25 years’ experience in the housewares sector.

Arthur Price is the UK’s premier cutlery company, established in 1902, and is proud to maintain a strong manufacturing base in the UK servicing retail and hospitality sectors worldwide. Arthur Price also have long-standing successful relationships with licenced brands including Llewellyn Bowen and Sophie Conran.

Supplier Judging

Aggie MacKenzie

Aggie MacKenzie

Journalist and TV Presenter

Aggie was director of the Good Housekeeping Institute in London before she was sked to co-present Channel 4’s ‘How Clean Is Your House?’ in 2003.

Since then she has guest-appeared on countless TV shows and presented two series of Storage Hoarders. Aggie currently writes on a number of domestic topics; she is a kitchen equipment tester for Delicious, writes about food and travel for Sainsbury’s Magazine and has a tips column in My Weekly. She does a regular phone-in cleaning advice slot on both Radio 5 Live and Dublin’s RTE. Aggie is a judge for the Great Taste Awards, Academy of Chocolate Awards and Delicious Produce Awards, and acts as an ambassador for Lakeland on QVC.

She regularly gives talks on a range of topics, including the joy of a decluttered life. She loves to cook, eat and drink and – in an effort to fend off the effects of old age and overindulging – is now a fully qualified yoga teacher.

Alison Hobbs

Alison Hobbs

Visual Merchandiser & Sales Assistant, Potters Cookshop

Alison Hobbs is a visual merchandiser and sales assistant at Potters Cookshop in Hockley, Essex. With her background in sales, having been at Jegs Electrical for 13 years, she is also a trained window dresser creating stunning displays. With great product knowledge and demonstration skills, plus a passion for sales, she is a great asset to the company.

David Conduit

David Conduit

Retail and Internet Purchase Manager, Harts of Stur

David has worked at Harts of Stur for over 25 years as part of the team that took the former agricultural merchant and hardware store into kitchenware and housewares, and then embracing the digital and online market revolution with the company’s multi-award winning website. He spends his time now either asleep or thinking of sleep.

Lindsey Allix

Lindsey Allix

Cookshop, Dining and Laundry Product Manager, Home Hardware

Lindsay has worked for several multiple retailers over the course of her career, always a non-food buyer. She relocated to North Devon to be by the sea and surf in 2004 and discovered the Home Hardware group offices within walking distance of her home. The ethos of the company really appealed to her and she is now a dedicated champion of the independent retail sector.

Lindsay has been the cookshop buyer since 2010. Of all the categories she has bought over the years, cookshop is her favourite because of both the products and the people in the sector.

Tom Carter

Tom Carter

Director, Potters Cookshop

Tom Carter is the director at Potters of Hockley and Potters Cookshop in Hockley, Essex. Having started out as a sales assistant at the company 16 years ago, he has worked his way up to director and is now running an award-winning cookshop. With a passion for retail, he is also a great believer in supporting the independent sector.

Tom Grinnall

Tom Grinnall

Head of Home, Blue Diamond Garden Centres

Tom Grinnall is Head of Home for Blue Diamond Group, which bills itself as the third largest garden centre group in the UK and Channel Islands. Managed and controlled in Guernsey, the retailer announced the acquisition of its 20th garden centre – at East Bridgford, near Nottingham – in May: East Bridgford Garden & Home is due to open on March 2018. It will join 17 centres in England, plus two in the Channel Islands at St Peter in Jersey and Castel in Guernsey. Blue Diamond won the Best Multiple Garden Centre Retailer category of The Housewares Innovation Awards 2017.