North West Business Masters: Winners crowned at glitzy event
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The North West Business Masters, for which the headline sponsor was Convex Capital, took place at Manchester’s Midland Hotel last night.
It was co-hosted by BBC Football Focus and Five Live presenter Dan Walker and the audience was treated to a humourous presentation by former England striker and manager Kevin Keegan.
One of the awards which epitomised the spirit of the evening was the Newcomer Award, which went to online fashion label Want That Trend, set by Victoria Molyneux.
Receiving the award from incoming editor of TheBusinessDesk, Joanne Birtwistle, she revealed how the company is expected to turnover £7m in its first year of trading.
“We’ve done all this at the same time as having a baby,” said the delighted Molyneux, who operates the company out of warehouse in Stockport.
“Want That Trend started because I could never afford high end clothing. I thought if I’m like that, how many other women in the world are in the same situation as me?
“Most of the clothing industry is run by men, so I tried to design clothing which flatters the figure and hides a mummy tummy and all those things that women are insecure about and here we are today.
“We have just got our first celebrity endorsement. We’re setting up a manufacturing company and we’re trying to get into high street stores like Newlook and Debenhams.”
And there was double delight for Clarke Energy which bagged the Exporter Award, sponsored by UKTI for the second year running.
Receiving the accolade from UKTI’s Clive Drinkwater, the Knowsley, Merseyside company’s group marketing and compliance manager Alexander Marshall said: “One of the biggest projects we’ve worked on is the largest grid connection plants in Africa, which is really exciting. We’ve also done another big project in Australia.
“For the obscure countries, UKTI’s support was fantastic and I would definitely recommend them to other North West businesses.”
The accolade for the company with the biggest heart went to family-run Creamline Dairies, which carried off the Pride/CSR Award.
Receiving the award from Paul Griffiths who runs the Monastery in Gorton, Manchester, which won the award last year, general sales manager of the Trafford Park company, Steve Neary, said he could barely believe the firm had won.
“We do a lot of charity work, supporting Francis House and have our own Creamline lottery where tickets are sold to our customers and money goes to charity,” he said.
“We are a local family business based in Trafford Park, employing 270 local people. We have to go the extra mile – that’s what makes us different.”
The winner of the Manufacturers Award turned out to be Altrincham trailer specialist Cartwright Group.
Receiving the award from the communications director of Peel owned MediaCityUK, Paul Newman, sales and marketing director Rich Anderson said: “It’s a family run business. We invest in people. We have 822 people working for us.
“Part of that is the apprenticeship scheme which promotes people working at the company who live with in the area. Our company is based on trailer manufacturing, finance and aftersales.
“We’ve got an apprenticeship scheme now which is really important because some of the apprentices in the past have moved on to management roles.”
Meanwhile, there was joy for Manchester’s only five-star hotel the Radisson Blu Edwardian, which carried off the Lifestyle Award.
Commercial manager Ryan Thompson received the award from co-founder of Hiring-Hub.com Simon Swan.
Thompson said: “We have a very simple business model. We make sure our employees put service to the customers first and we deliver that service so that people come back.
“We’ve bought the Theatre Royal which is next door to us. We are currently introducing a four-phase business model and have just done a massive refurbishment of a lot of our bedrooms. Our next phase we have planning permission for at the moment is re-investing in our ground floor, comprising two restaurants, lobby and reception area.
“We are going to add two storeys on to the top of our south block and make some really cool super suites with Jacuzzis and the fourth phase will be the Theatre Royal and that will make the whole property into the real urban resort we’re aiming for.
“We are also intending to put a casino in the basement, conference facilities for 750 people and we’re talking about connecting up with Manchester Central with a couple of restaurants and a rooftop bar. For the North West it’s going to be unrivalled.”
The Employer of the Year Award went to UKFast, the Manchester-based privately-owned data hosting and cloud computing operator.
Elizabeth Donevan, communications director, said: “I wish Lawrence Jones our CEO was here to explain how passionate he is about looking after people.
“He couldn’t be here tonight because he’s on a mission to make Manchester the number one city in the UK. It’s about making sure people stay up here rather than going down south. It’s not just about paying people lots of money.
“It’s about investing in people personally and professionally. In a bold move a couple of years ago he recruited two teachers from the public sector to start a dedicated education division and it’s worked miracles. It was a great place to be anyway, but it’s hit new levels now.
“We’re great believers in growing talent from the ground and there are people on the board of directors now who have grown, not necessarily from apprenticeships, but similar.”
The Fast Growth Award was sponsored by Cenkos Securities an independent specialist securities firm focused on UK small and mid-cap companies.
Receiving the award for winners, security software firm Avecto, sales manager Kate Lewis, said: “We’re protecting organisations against advanced threats. It was the founders’ vision and obsession within innovation that takes the organization forward.
“Investment from the US is going to keep us ahead and continuing to focus and solutions for the future.”
Property services and project delivery specialist Styles & Wood won the Listed Business Award and received the trophy from Simon French of Cenkos.
Philip Lanigan, group finance director of the Altrincham company, said: “While we used to be known as shop fit-out specialists we’re now bringing the skills we honed in retail to bear on a multitude of different sectors.
“Recent project include a range of hospitality suites at Manchester City, a concert hall for the Royal Northern College of Music, the new restaurant at the Lowry Theatre, and the refurbishment of Lancaster University’s library.
“Our pipeline’s very healthy, across a range of sectors. We’ve recruited a number of people in the North West in the last 12 months and we’ll be looking to build upon that over the next 12 months.”
Wilmslow-based Citation Professional Solutions, won the Professional Services Award.
Receiving the award Les Blacker, client services director, said: “This award is dedicated to the 384 people who work tirelessly every day to deliver for our customers.
“We try to take a lot of the pain out of small businesses, growing businesses so they can get on with doing their day to day jobs by helping with their health and safety needs as well as understanding some of the human resources issues which occur. We’re really proud that our team is probably three or four times the size that it was three years ago and we fully expect that to be similar over the next couple of years.”
Bolton-based customer software platform Gnatta won the Innovator Award, which was presented by Meggitt.
Senior developer Oliver Welch said: “The idea came from an intern who asked ‘why am I managing all these social media accounts and other accounts separately. So the idea was to put them into one account – one interface. A multi-channel interface. At the moment we’ve got ASOS, Mothercare and Saracens.
“Last year revenue was £1.1m, this year it will be £2.5m.”
There was delight for pioneering Manchester-based biotech firm Premaitha Health, which won a Special Recognition Award.
The company has developed the IONA prenatal non-invasive screening test for Down’s Syndrome and other genetic disorders for pregnant woman.
Receiving the award from outgoing managing editor of TheBusinessDesk Chris Barry, lead scientist Francesco Crea, who developed the treatment, said: “We are delighted to win this award. This is a vital service for pregnant woman all over the world and the IONA test is now gaining global recognition for its immense value.”