Lincs costume manufacturer Smiffys crowned Midlands Family Business 2014 | Wilson Organisation


November 14, 2014

Lincs costume manufacturer Smiffys crowned Midlands Family Business 2014

Lincs costume manufacturer Smiffys crowned Midlands Family Business 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 Wilsons, 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 Wilsons 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. See here for the full list of winners and Highly Commended in the Midlands Family Business Awards 2014: 

Over 100 years of innovation

  • 1914

    A successful launch! The Wilson Organisation was founded in Nottingham by Harold Wilson and became the first company in the East Midlands to offer a comprehensive insurance policy to the region’s fast-growing band of automobile drivers. Innovation from day one.

  • 1920s

    During the 1920’s, Wilsons developed its commercial insurance offering under the stewardship of Harold Wilson. Hopping forwards 80 years, Wilsons has developed a number of industry specialisms including a particular expertise in the food and drink sector. We created a unique insurance offering called “FoodProtect” and, through this service, have been able to deliver intelligence and cost-effective insurance programmes to a broad spread of leading food producers. The best thing since sliced bread? Maybe not, but we’re working on it.

  • 1949

    John Prow joined Harold Wilson in the business, marking the first generation of the Prow family’s involvement in The Wilson Organisation. Wilsons’ clients included leading Nottingham firm Boots The Chemist plus a number of operators in the burgeoning railway sector. With post-war regeneration beginning apace, the firm’s fledgling construction expertise quickly developed into one of our leading offerings and this continues through to the present day, with clients including national and regional builders, developers, contractors, sub-contractors and architects.

  • 1960s

    The 1960s were the start of a new era for The Wilson Organisation. Harold Wilson and John Prow died on the same day in 1963, Harold of illness and John in a car crash. This left John’s son, John J Prow, to run the growing business at the age of 27. Under his youthful direction, Wilsons benefited from a new energy and direction. John J Prow, who had joined in 1960 in a new business role, led the move into our current premises at Wilson House in 1964 and then launched the financial services division in the following year.

  • 1990s

    The late 1990s heralded the start of the third generation of the Prow family’s involvement in the business. Managing Director Charlotte Prow joined in 1998, to be followed by the firm’s Chief Executive, Annabel Prow, in 2002. Product and service innovation continued apace with the launch of a corporate finance specialism in 1997, which continues to deliver valuable cost-savings and insights to the region’s dealmakers.

  • 2000s

    Now century on from the launch of The Wilson Organisation in 1914, the company continues to encourage innovation and reward good ideas. Within the financial services team, 2008 marked the launch of “Flex”, a powerful employee benefit programme and the development of “WRAP”, an investment tool with a unique level of investor control and transparency. Meanwhile, our insurance advisers worked quickly to bring to market a specialist insurance policy for insolvency practitioners.

  • 2010s

    2010 saw the launch of the Midlands Family Business Awards by Wilsons, the UK’s only independent not-for-profit Awards for family businesses. Now in their fifth year, the Awards have raised almost £20,000 for charities supporting families and young people. In 2014 we are celebrating Wilsons’ centenary, a significant milestone in Wilsons’ history.

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Harold Wilson (Insurances) Ltd. and Harold Wilson Financial Services Ltd. are authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority)