The judging process for the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards is like no other in the industry. We have always believed that awards are only worth winning if people truly feel they have been fairly and accurately judged in a process that is transparent and comprehensive.

We always acknowledge that no judging system or process is perfect. This is, we believe, the best process that balances ease of entry and robustness and transparency of the judges’ evaluation.

So, let’s start at the beginning. For 2022 we have three sets of categories – retail, design and special – so the first thing we do is put together SIX different judging panels.

  • Panel A: Retail and showroom judges
  • Panel B: Bathroom design judges
  • Panel C: Kitchen design judges
  • Panel D: Installation judges
  • Panel E: Supplier Team judges
  • Panel F: Special Achievement judges

Let’s take each set of categories in turn and see how the judging works…


  • Kitchen Retailer of the Year
  • Bathroom Retailer of the Year
  • Kitchen Showroom of the Year
  • Bathroom Showroom of the Year
  • New Kitchen Retailer of the Year
  • New Bathroom Retailer of the Year
  • Community Champion of the Year
  • Installation Company of the Year

The judging begins with a simple scoring system. The retail and installation judging panels go through all the submitted entries and score them against these criteria:

Retailer of the Year Judging Criteria:

  • Adaptation to changing market conditions
  • Demonstrable business plan
  • Staff care and management
  • Marketing to target audience
  • Unique ideas and initiative
  • Showroom effectiveness for target audience
  • Product and supplier choice target audience

Showroom of the Year Judging Criteria:

  • Adaptation to changing market conditions
  • Coronavirus response
  • Layout
  • Effective use of available space
  • Customer journey
  • Displays and product choice
  • Unique ideas and initiative
  • Effectiveness as a sales tool
  • Customer presentation area
  • Housekeeping

New Retailer of the Year judging criteria

  • Adaption to changing market conditions
  • Concept and execution
  • Marketing to target audience (includes digital)
  • Product and supplier choice for target audience
  • Future plans
  • Unique ideas and initiative
  • Potential for longevity

Community Champion of the Year judging criteria

  • Adaptation to changing market conditions
  • Originality and creativity
  • Spreading the word
  • Understanding local needs and making a positive contribution
  • Personal connection
  • Involving the team
  • Drumming up industry support

Installation Company of the Year judging criteria 

  • Adaptation to changing market conditions
  • Workmanship
  • Training and development
  • Versatility and adaptability
  • Community involvement
  • Customer service
  • Business planning
  • Unique ideas and initiative

At the end of the scoring stage – which the judges do independently of each other – we add them all up and the four with the highest scores in each category become our shortlist. It’s worth pointing out that, in the case of previous winners or finalists, judges are specifically guided to only judge on what the business or showroom has achieved in the 12 months since the last awards.

Next comes the stage that’s unique to the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards. It’s incredibly difficult to choose a winner based entirely on a written submission and we’ve always felt that to truly understand a business or showroom, you have to see it and discuss it with the owner.

We send the judges out across the UK and Ireland to visit each of the finalists to meet them, get to know them and quiz them on all aspects of the criteria.

Only when all the interviews are complete do the judges decide who wins.


  • Kitchen Designer of the Year: project cost over £50,000
  • Kitchen Designer of the Year: project cost £30,000 – £50,000
  • Kitchen Designer of the Year: project cost up to £30,000
  • Bathroom Designer of the Year: project cost over £25,000
  • Bathroom Designer of the Year: project cost £10,000 – £25,000
  • Bathroom Designer of the Year: project cost up to £10,000

We actually have TWO separate design judging panels running independently of each other – one for kitchen and one for bathroom. They are each made up of experts in those fields and, like the retail panel, they begin by going through all the submitted entries and scoring them against these fixed criteria:

Designer of the Year Judging Criteria

  • Aesthetics
  • Meeting and exceeding the brief
  • Problem solving
  • Product and material choice
  • Unique ideas and initiative
  • Value for money

Again, like the retail categories, all the scores are added together and the top four in each category make up the shortlist.

Then comes stage two – the presentations. All the shortlisted designers are invited to a dedicated judging day where they are each given 15 minutes to present their project in person to the judging panel. It’s their chance to give all the detail and tell the full story of the design, but likewise it’s the judge’s chance to quiz them on all aspects of the project before deciding who the winners are.

The one question that always arises in the design judging is how we define ‘project cost’. No two design projects are the same so the definition we use is ‘the final cost paid to you by the client’. That cost may or may not include all aspects of the completed kitchen or bathroom but they do include the aspects that the designer had control over. So, for example, you may get two kitchens with a project cost of £29,000 but one includes building work, installation and appliances and the other did not.

On the entry form, the designer must declare the project cost AND what is or isn’t included in that figure. It’s then up to the judges to take those factors into account when making their decisions. This is a design competition, it’s not an audit, so we must take all the figures presented to us at face value, however there is no advantage to be had by manipulating the costs to push it into one category over another.


Special Achievement Award

If you’re the leading awards event in the industry, it’s absolutely correct that we should take the opportunity every year to acknowledge the overall contribution of an individual, team or organisation.

The recipients are chosen by the editorial team of kbbreview and there are no entries for this category, it is purely chosen by us and, usually, the recipient is blissfully unaware until the moment they hear their name read out.

The only criteria we use is to remember it is a ‘Special Achievement’ award and not necessarily a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award. This means that while individuals have received the trophy for their contribution over many years, equally milestones such as the establishment of the kitchen design degree course, have been celebrated too.

Supplier Team of the Year Award

This is new one-off category that will acknowledge and reward those suppliers who truly went above and beyond to help, support and advise their independent retail partners.

Entries will be judged by a panel of independent retailers and scored against the criteria below. The scores will be added up and the top four make up the shortlist and top one is the winner.

  • Adaptation to changing market conditions
  • Attention to detail
  • Training and development
  • Personal service
  • Going beyond the call of duty
  • Unique ideas and initiative

Rising Star Award

Successful businesses and industries are always looking for fresh, new, creative talent.
These rising stars often drive companies to innovate and embrace new practices and technologies and, guided by experienced hands, they can grow into valuable team members or even the next generation of business leaders.

The development of this pool of new, young talent is so important to the future of the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom retail sector and this is why kbbreview is introducing its ‘Rising Stars’ award as part of the Save Our Skills campaign.

And, as with the Save Our Skills, the Rising Stars Award is sponsored by Quooker.
Every month between July 2021 and February 2022, we will choose a Rising Star to feature on our kbbreview newsletter. 

Then, from that shortlist, we will choose one to be our overall Rising Star 2022 and they will be revealed at the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2022 ceremony in Birmingham.