Industry body rewards Britain's new business talent

The best of Britain’s small and medium sized firms have been honoured at the Growing Business Awards in London.

Will King, founder of King of Shaves and a proudly British manufacturer, collected the Company of the Year award. Judges felt that King’s the men’s grooming brand had proved that constant innovation was the key to continued growth. This year, the company he set up in his kitchen 15 years ago, launched Azor - the first British made, engineered and designed system razor for more than 100 years.

Glen Manchester, the 43 year-old founder and CEO of enterprise software company Thunderhead, was named Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Coutts. While enterprise technology has typically been the domain of major US technology corporations, Thunderhead has enjoyed a staggering 28,500 per cent rate of growth over the past five years, with latest figures showing turnover of £12.4m.

Neil Hutchinson, the 30-year old CEO of TrafficBroker – an internet marketing agency – was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In its latest year, the company, which provides online search management and affiliate marketing services for customers including Vodafone, Amazon, eBay and, is generating turnover of £25m and over 200m clicks.

Linda Bennett, founder of the £60m LK Bennett chain of shops, was voted Entrepreneurs’ Entrepreneur by readers of Real Business magazine. After opening her first shop aged 26 with £13,000 of savings, she sold a majority stake to a private equity firm earlier this year, netting her £70m. 

Other awards included:

•      Technology and Innovation: RDS Technology

•      People and Performance: Because

•      Global Outlook and Expansion: thebigwordGroup

•      Customer Excellence:

•      New Product of the Year: Alumet (a manufacturer of blast-proof building facades)

•      The Social Enterprise Award: East London Small Business Centre (the oldest enterprise agency in the UK, set up in 1978)

•      The Green Award: First Mile and the Arcola Theatre (joint winners)

•      Young Company of the Year: Concert Live

Attendees to the awards ceremony included: William Hague MP; Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI John Caudwell; Gerry Ford, chairman, CEO and founder of Caffe Nero; Sir Terence Conran; Lord Swraj Paul, founder and chairman of the Caparo Group; John Madejski, chairman of Reading FC and Dragons Den’s Theo Paphitis.

Richard Lambert said: “In tougher economic times, it pays to keep an eye on the longer-term, and plan for growth when the upturn comes. That’s why the Growing Business Awards is so important, helping to identify the next generation of business leaders, inspiring us with their ingenuity and skill, and giving us hope and confidence in the future.”

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