Who was crowned EY North Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017?

The EY Entrepreneur of the Year winners 2017

Di Walker, executive chair of Yorkshire-based Karro Food Group, was crowned EY North Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 overall winner at an awards ceremony in Manchester last night.

Karro, a specialist supplier of pork products into the retail, foodservice and export markets, processes about 45,000 pigs each week for delivery to the UK’s major supermarkets and wholesale food suppliers markets, all with full supply chain visibility.

Walker also took home the Transformational Leader award and was described by the judges as “an impressive individual” who has restructured the business, rescuing more than 1,000 jobs in the process.

Victoria Price, EY partner and Entrepreneur Of The Year leader in the North, said: “Di has done a spectacular job with Karro.

Tom Jack of Endless accepting EY’s EoY overall winner award on behalf of Di Walker

“Since joining the firm in 2013, after the purchase of Vion Food Group’s UK pork division by Endless and Karro’s existing management team, Di has developed the company strategy and restructured the company, saving over 1000 jobs.

“Di is an incredibly impressive leader, with a very approachable and down-to-earth manner. She is a worthy winner of the Transformational Leader award and a clear Overall Winner.”

Eight entrepreneurs from seven companies were honoured on the night, each winning an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award in each of the following categories:

•    Transformational Leader and Overall Winner – Di Walker, executive chair, Karro Food Group (HQ: Malton, North Yorkshire)

•    Building a Better Working World – Dr Dawn Cranswick, chief executive, PNE Group (HQ: Gateshead)

•    Disruptor – Debbie Bestwick MBE, CEO & Founder, Team 17 Digital Ltd (HQ: Wakefield, West Yorkshire)

•    International – Richard Butterfield, group chairman, Principle Holdings Ltd (HQ: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire)

•    Master – David Mottershead, managing director, The Little Greene Paint Company (HQ: Manchester)

•    Rising Star – Tayyab Akhlaq, director, Public Desire (HQ: Manchester)

•    Scale Up – Daniel Fairburn, managing director and Sarah Louise Fairburn, Brand & sales director, L J Fairburn & Son (HQ: Alford, Lincolnshire)

•    Special Award – EY Family Business Award of Excellence – Stuart Paver, Pavers Shoes (HQ: York)


Meanwhile, EY has been awarded employer provider status, which will allow the firm to officially deliver apprenticeship training to its people.

Part of the Government’s apprenticeship reforms, employer provider status recognises the role business can play in driving the quality of apprenticeships, helping more young people into the world of work, and bridging skills gaps in the UK.

Employers have to apply to the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to become an official ‘training provider’ and once granted are subject to Ofsted and SFA reviews, to ensure the standard of training remains high.

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for Talent at EY, UK and Ireland, said: “Gaining employer provider status helps us to deliver high quality apprenticeships for our people that are tailored to the needs of our business.

“Apprenticeships provide an attractive alternative to University for students and, at the same time, an opportunity for employers to upskill their people and indeed the UK workforce.

“We see impressive students keen to start their career at the earliest opportunity, who are enthusiastic, energetic and hungry to learn. We want to harness that talent by creating more routes into the profession.”