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Lincs costume manufacturer Smiffys crowned Midlands Family Business of the Year 2014


Posted on 14 November 2014

A Lincolnshire family business founded in 1894 and today the UK’s leading manufacturer of fancy dress and carnival costumes has scooped the top prize in the 2014 Midlands Family Business Awards.

Gainsborough-based R H Smith & Sons – Smiffys – was announced the winner of the headline Family Business of the Year Award at a prestigious black tie dinner last night (Thursday 13th November 2014) at Nottingham Trent University attended by 300 guests, including this year’s finalists, judges and supporters of the Awards.

Created and organised by third generation family business The Wilson Organisation, the Awards are the Midlands’ only independent, not-for-profit initiative to recognise and celebrate the work and achievements of family businesses and their advisers.

Smiffys is the leading fancy dress, Halloween and carnival costume manufacturing company in the UK and distributes over 5000 products to 5000 stockists around the world.

Highly Commended in the headline category were Nottinghamshire’s A1 Flue Systems and Leicester’s Charles Bentley & Son.

Commenting on the Awards, Chris Taylor, Partner in Nottingham of Midlands’ accountants and business advisors Smith Cooper, the headline sponsor of the Awards, said: “Yet again we have seen a fantastic calibre of family businesses enter the awards this year. These businesses really represent the best of family enterprise and every one of these companies, no matter which sector, has shown their drive to grow and innovate.

“Smiffys really impressed us this year for three main reasons: their incredible ambition to grow which really shone through during the presentation on the judging day, their high level of commitment to their people, and their openness to seek advice.

“As we have seen, previous winners of these awards often go on to achieve great things. I wish Smiffys the best of luck and look forward to watching the development of all of this year's shortlisted businesses.”

Annabel Prow CEO of The Wilson Organisation added: “As a family business in their 120th year, Smiffys is a shining example of a family business with drive, ambition, creativity, and inspiration. It has delivered sustainable growth through continuous innovation, clear family values and a tangible feeling of fun.

“Family businesses are the bedrock of the UK and global economies, generate over £1 trillion each year in UK revenues and provide more than nine million jobs in the UK. They have played a vital role in sustaining the UK’s economy throughout the recession and will continue to play a major part in its recovery.The Midlands is home to almost half-a-million family businesses, and all entries this year demonstrate the exceptional pedigree of the region’s family businesses, with our finalists representing a huge range of sectors, from ten to over 500 employees, annual turnover ranging from £1M to more than £50M, and businesses in their second up to sixth generation.”

Category sponsors for the 2014 Awards are Smith Cooper, Barclays,Becketts Farm, Crouch Logistics, Family Business Futures, First Actuarial, PwC, Premium Credit, Shakespeares, Thomas Miller Investment, and Unum.

Annabel added: “We must pay a huge thank you to all our judges and sponsors who made the Awards and the celebratory Dinner possible – and to all the incredible family businesses and individuals who have entered the Awards this year.”

The Awards recognise family businesses, their innovation, operations, growth and performance in ten categories. The winners and Highly Commended in each category are:


Family Business of the Year

Winner: R H Smith & Sons

Highly Commended: A1 Flue Systems

Highly Commended: Charles Bentley & Son


Best Small Family Business

Winner: Philip Morris & Son

Highly Commended: C Henry & Sons Ltd

Highly Commended: Mrs Stone Store



Business Innovation

Winner: Mereway Kitchens

Highly Commended: Maskarade


International Development

Winner: Westermans International

Highly Commended: BM Fashions

Highly Commended: Futura Design


Leading Adviser to Family Businesses

Winner: Jonathan Tyson, Else Solicitors LLP

Highly Commended: Fraser Cunningham, Smith Partnership

Highly Commended: James Simmonds, UHY Hacker Young


Fastest Growing Family Business

Winner: John Pye & Sons

Highly Commended: BM Fashions

Highly Commended: MAC Surfacing


Manufacturing Excellence

Winner: A1 Flue Systems

Highly Commended: Charles Bentley & Son

Highly Commended: Lestercast


Director of the Year (under 40)

Winner: Edward Mellors, Mellors Group

Highly Commended: Neil Male, GMS Security

Highly Commended: Barney Edwards, Prezzybox


Employer of the Year

Winner: Lestercast

Highly Commended: James Coles and Sons

Highly Commended: PCMS Group


Service Excellence

Winner: Breedon House Nurseries

Highly Commended: PCMS Group

Highly Commended: Sundial Group


For the full list of winners and finalists, and profiles of the judges for 2014, visit:


2014 is the fifth year for the not-for-profit, independent Awards, and this year they are raising funds for The Outward Bound Trust, the educational charity for young people. Since their launch in 2010, the Awards have raised in the region of £20,000 for charities supporting young people and enterprise.

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