Champagne was in order for companies across the Observer area celebrating some impressive results at the Southern Business Awards.
The event, at the Grand Hotel in Brighton on Friday, brought together the best industry talent from across Sussex and Hampshire for a glitzy black-tie evening hosted by Meridian’s Fred Dinenage.
With a total of 19 categories, there were plenty of honours to contend for and our firms performed admirably against some strong competition.
Builders’ merchants Covers successfully gained the training and education award for its attitude towards its workforce of around 400 employees.
HR director Rupert Green said: “This just makes all the hard work worthwhile in wining this award. We’ve had a lot of support from the staff and I’m sure those who founded the company in 1840 would be proud we are still developing it now.”
He praised HR colleagues Hannah Sayward and Rhea Sampson, who attended the ceremony with him, as examples of personal development programmes the company supports.
Ladies and gents outfitters Andrew McDowall gained the customer service award in the wake of its success at the Observer awards last year.
Collecting the accolade, Mr Andrew Moore said: “We are absolutely delighted with having won – this is a credit to everyone who works in the shop. This is definitely for them as well, not just for me. I think our success is down to going that extra mile for our customers.”
Also picking up a major accolade, as medium business of the year, was Arundel firm Sparks Yard. Created by husband and wife team Andy and Holly Heggadon, the couple took the bold decision to expand their existing quality gift store with an alternative offering of a high-end stationery shop. So far this year it has gained plenty of favourable reactions from shoppers.
Holly said: “We’re very surprised and excited to have won this category. It’s been a good year for us, winning another industry award, but this is great to win an award here.
“I think our success is down to the fact we’ve stuck to the things we like rather than choosing products we think might sell a lot, we’ve kept true to our style.”
Andy added: “It’s been an extremely busy summer for us with Arundel Festival and we have been pleased with how we have done with that. We’re really glad to have been chosen for this award.”
Demonstrating innovation at an early age, 20-year-old Luke Mead claimed young business person of the year for his innovative IT services firm LMS based in Arundel.
He said: “I’m still shaking from it, this is great. The business has come on so far. We’ve worked hard on improving our office and we’ve managed to get on and pick up some work contracts.
“It’s been five years now since I started the company from home and it’s always growing all the time.
“I hope I can be a role model for other young entrepreneurs.”
Sidlesham firm Caroline’s Dairy gained a highly-commended award in the going green category. Run by Caroline and Chris Spiby, it has enjoyed a strong 2011 despite difficult trading conditions.
Mr Spiby said: “We’ve done a lot of work on conservation on the farm, which has a lot of wildlife around it including brown owls. It’s good to have an award, which is all down to my wife Caroline really, as it’s her ice cream!”
They were not the only ones to be highly commended from our area, as Best Western Hotel in Bognor also received a runner-up award in the best large business section.
Alex Spofforth, a Spofforths partner, was invited to be a judge for the Southern Business Awards 2011 and he commented: “The awards were a great success this year and I was delighted to join the judging panel.
“The shortlist was impressive and all the businesses involved deserve recognition for their hard work over the past 12 months.
“Spofforths sponsored the innovation award and it was a pleasure to congratulate Funky Lunch Limited for winning this category. They have proved new ideas can be used to enhance a business.
“At Spofforths we ask all business people to consider the benefits of innovation, as fresh ideas can help to stimulate growth, reduce costs and increase profitability.”