Leading names honoured at North West Business Masters

CO-OP boss Peter Marks, Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood operations and leading lawyer and charity fund-raiser Maurice Watkins were among the winners at TheBusinessDesk.com’s North West Masters awards today.

Mr Marks, who has led the Manchester-based mutual giant for the last six years, was crowned North West Ambassador, for his outstanding leadership and contribution to the Co-operative movement since beginning his career as a management trainee in 1967.

Due to retire in three weeks, Mr Marks, 63, was instrumental in bringing together the country’s two biggest co-operative societies, CWS and United Co-op in 2007, and also pulled off the £1.6bn acquisition of grocery chain Somerfield in 2008, which dramatically strengthened the group’s retail business.

Collecting the award, he said he was “humbled” and dedicated it to the group’s 100,000+ employees.

He joked that he was a “business failure” in the wake of the Co-operative having decided not to progress with its proposed acquisition of 632 bank branches from  Lloyds this week.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood plant, where the top-selling Evoque model is made and exported worldwide, took the prestigious title of North West Manufacturer.

The Merseyside-based factory, which has seen employee numbers treble to 4,500 in the last three years, has broken all previous productivity records.

Tireless charity fundraiser Maurice Watkins won the North West Pride award, pipping the charities Forever Manchester and Reuben’s Retreat at the post.

Mr Watkins, CBE, in his day job a leading sports lawyer with Brabners Chaffe Street, championed the successful  £20m New Children’s Hospital Appeal in Manchester.

Prescot-based cooker manufacturer Glen Dimplex Home Appliances won the North West exporter. The company behind the Stoves and New World brands has seen export sales surge by more than 800% in the last three years.
Hiring-Hub.com, a pioneering online recruitment marketplace was the winner of the North West Innovator title, while fast-growing Lancashire sweet business Goody Good Stuff was North West Newcomer.

More than 160 business leaders attended the awards at the Lowry Hotel in Salford, which were sponsored by Etihad Airways, Manchester Airports Group, law firm Weightmans, Baker Tilly, Liberty Pensions and Four Financial Recruitment.

Full details of the awards event, along with a gallery of images and videos from the event will be available on TheBusinessDesk.com tomorrow.