Theatres, carpets, Scottish ale and an exploding fail-safe system to seal undersea oil wells: these were among the winning entries of the Private Business Awards 2013 held at the Guildhall, London last night, where the guest speaker was George Osborne, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Euromonitor International, a leading provider of statistical and market analysis, won Private Business of the Year, with judges commending the London-based firm for its sales growth and export success.
Founded in 1972, Euromonitor employs more than 800 people and has public and private clients in more than 80 countries. The firm has seen impressive revenue and profit growth in recent years. More than 90 per cent of its revenues come from overseas.
Robert Senior, Executive Chairman of Euromonitor, said:
“Our business has not always had the highest profile. Instead, we’ve spent 40 years developing, honing and promoting a quality product. The fact that so many global brands use it today makes us immensely proud.”
Jamie’s Italian took the Rising Star Award. The firm, which boasts a distinctive recruitment and staff engagement record, has grown by 476 per cent during the past 4 years, has already opened 11 overseas restaurants and has ambitions for 50 more in 20 countries over the next 5 years.
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, guest speaker said:
“From the biggest household names to the smallest family firms, privately owned businesses are part of our economic lifeblood. As the British economy turns a corner, this Government won’t let up in supporting them. That means delivering the lowest business tax in the G20, introducing an employment allowance to help them create new jobs and a ‘funding-for-lending’ scheme that helps get loans to business.
“I am proud to celebrate the amazing contribution of these firms, and I congratulate all those nominated for an award.”
The Private Business Awards were set up to celebrate the best in the UK’s private business sector and are sponsored by PwC, in association with HSBC Private Bank.
Business Woman of the Year was awarded to Nica Burns of Nimax Theatres for her energy and inspirational style. After training as an actress, Nica became Artistic Director of the then-unfunded Donmar Warehouse. She remortgaged her house to acquire the first of Nimax’s four theatres and has recently secured planning permission to build a new theatre on Charing Cross Road. Nica is a champion and mentor to young, female theatre producers and has given thousands of children their first taste of theatre through outreach programmes.
Europe’s largest IT company, the Midlands-based Rigby Group, is Family Business of the Year. The firm has secured great loyalty from its senior management and has shown vision and foresight in tackling leadership succession, a major issue for many family businesses and one PwC is due to report on later this year.
Charlie Hoffman, Managing Director, HSBC Private Bank, said:
“Private business employs over 10 million people in the UK and represents a quarter of total UK GDP. These awards celebrate its achievement and outstanding success and highlight a sector alive with innovation and ideas, with a very bright future. Private business is integral to HSBC’s strategic goal of building on our commercial banking heritage to be the leading private bank for business owners.”
Employer of the Year was London’s Itsu, purveyor of sushi, salad and potsu. With a panoply of exemplary staff engagement activities – from masterclasses and staff breakfasts to staff champions’ leagues and development opportunities – the company has created an enviable sense of loyalty and belonging among its 700 staff across 38 shops.
CEO of the Year was awarded to Graham Honeyman for his spirited defence and turnaround of Sheffield Forgemasters. Graham orchestrated a management buyout in 2005 and returned the company (with its 200-year-old pedigree) to profit.
He has showed remarkable resilience and is respected by his 800 employees, many of whose pensions he saved from the liquidation of the parent company. Sheffield Forgemasters has a hugely positive local influence through its supply chains and relationships in and around Sheffield.
Ruby Parmar, Partner and Head of Private Business at PwC, said:
“For me, private companies are the most dynamic, challenging and rewarding communities in the business ecosystem. It’s firms like these that will drive the economy’s recovery, return to growth and future competitiveness.”
Exporter of the Year was picked up by Ulster Carpet Mills in recognition of its achievements as a high-end manufacturer providing carpets to the Paris Ritz and the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, as well as Monte Carlo and Las Vegas casinos. Some 70 per cent of company sales are overseas.
Blue Skies Holdings was Social Enterprise of the Year. The Midlands-headquartered company has the surprising accolade of being one of the largest private sector employers in Ghana, paying four times the minimum wage to employees who cut and package its fresh fruit and juices. With steadily rising profits, the company is an innovator that has also invested in the communities in which it operates, funding infrastructure projects and schools.
The High Growth Business of the Year was awarded to BrewDog, a feisty, innovative and profitable Aberdeen-based brewer with 80 per cent operating profit growth in the last year. BrewDog has retained its independent spirit and close relations with its 6,500 shareholders. Its unique crowd-funding approach enabled it to open a new £7 million brewery in late 2012.
Finally, oil and gas services provider Spex Services Ltd was recognised for Technology Innovation of the Year for its Emergency Severance Tool (EST), a product that uses an explosive to sever all components and then re-seal them if an uncontrolled blowout occurs.