Children’s book publisher is UK private business of the year

Private Business Award 2015

Usborne Publishing Ltd has been named UK private business of the year at a ceremony in London.

Founded in 1973 by Peter Usborne, the London-based company has grown to become the UK’s largest independent publisher of children’s books. Usborne Publishing was set up in response to the gap in the market for entertaining non-fiction books which could compete against TV for children’s attention. There are now over 2,600 Usborne books in print.

The company employs over 100 writers and creates almost all its content in-house. The average length of service for its two hundred employees is almost a decade. Peter Usborne, now 78 years old, is recognised as an exemplar of a private business owner – constantly innovating and taking calculated risks to grow the company at home and abroad, returning profits, motivating and caring for his staff and always considering the wider community and environment.

Business secretary Sajid Javid MP, guest speaker at this year’s ceremony said:
“Private businesses are a vital part of British society. They drive growth, create wealth and provide opportunity to millions of people.”

“I want you to succeed and, by cutting corporation tax, removing burdensome red tape and helping smaller firms grow and create jobs, the government is getting behind you. It is great to celebrate these awards and see the best that UK private business has on offer.”
Charlie Hoffman, Managing Director, HSBC Private Bank and Chair of the Judging Panel, said:
“Congratulations to Usborne Publishing on winning the flagship UK Private Business Award, a testament to 40 years of success under the leadership of Peter Usborne.”

“Private business across the UK continues to drive growth in our economy with over three million family businesses providing total revenues of £1.1 trillion. Take the Tangle Teezer hair brush, invented in 2007 and winner of the International Business of the Year Award. One brush is now sold every three seconds and 80% are exported.”

“As one of the world’s largest international private banks, HSBC is proud to work with many private businesses, supporting them from both a corporate and personal perspective as they build and grow their businesses further.”
Other category winners at the awards sponsored by PwC, HSBC Private Bank and The Supper Club include:

Technology Innovation of the Year - Vision RT Ltd -– London. A system that ensures the patient remains in the correct position during radio therapy treatment.

Social Enterprise of the Year - Glencraft (Aberdeen) Ltd –– Scotland. Hiring and developing local people and skilled workers with disabilities at the 170-year-old mattress and bedroom furniture business in Aberdeen.

High Growth Business of the Year - BenRiach Distillery Co Ltd –– Scotland. A small, high growth whisky distiller established in 2004. Revenues doubled since 2011.

Rising Star of the Year - Emoderation Ltd –– London. A global social media management agency that delivers multi-lingual community management and moderation, social listening, data, insight and social media consulting.

International Business of the Year - Tangle Teezer –– South East. Mould-breaking hair brush designed to detangle wet or dry hair. Now sold in over 70 countries.

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year – Alice Blackie, Pink Boutique – North East. Entrepreneurial online fashion retailer to women aged 18-35. Small beginnings quickly leading to 30,000 ft warehouse space with 50 staff, shipping 2000 dresses a day.

Private Business Woman of the Year – Cheryl Williams – Yorkshire Wildlife Park – North East. Leading a major wildlife conservation area and award-winning visitor attraction that engages with local schools and communities. Heroic helper of polar bears and other animals.

CEO of the Year – Phil Doyle, Kelway Ltd – London. Competitive and focussed leader of a provider of IT services and solutions to SMEs and the public sector.

Kolak Snack Foods Ltd – Family Business of the Year – South East. 30 years of unbroken growth; 28,000 packets of crisps and snacks a week.



Brian Henderson, PwC partner and leader of PwC technology and high-growth business, said:
“The quality of the businesses and the stories behind them get better each year and, hailing originally from Newcastle, it’s gratifying for me to see private businesses from the North East. We want to hear form the best of UK businesses for next year’s awards.”


Jane Gomez, Director, The Supper Club, said:
“The UK is a great place to start a business, but few ever achieve real scale. Only 4% of all UK businesses employing more than 10 staff and just 0.2% growing beyond 250 staff.”

“The UK Private Business Awards celebrate the leaders of businesses in the UK that are breaking through this growth barrier; innovating, creating jobs and driving the UK economy.”


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