A world of opportunity'19 Dec 2013
Growth and global present both a challenge and an opportunity for UK plc – and that’s why they’ll be key themes for the National Business Awards in 2014, writes Programme Director Alex Evans
Explosive growth is hard to manage and maintain, but this year’s NBA winners and finalists have shown how it’s done. Examples include New Business of the Year wnDirect - which has grown to over £50m turnover in two years by perfectly executing its model at breakneck speed. Judges for the Inflexion Growth Business of the Year attributed Hermes UK’s phenomenal growth to ‘an innovative model driven by the strong leadership’ of its CEO Carole Woodhead.
Sustaining growth is an ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes. London Bio Packaging was one of several SMEs shortlisted for the ICAEW Sustainable Business Award that has embedded new models of business. It triumphed over organisations ranging from Whittlebury Hall & Spa to Anglian Water (which was identified as a Future Champion). “Their commitment to sustainability was apparent through their entire purpose and operating model,” said ICAEW’s Russell Cook. “They are showcasing an upcoming generation of innovative business people who are transforming the meaning of people, planet and profit without even needing to label it as such.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Sainsbury’s was named QBE FTSE 100 Business of the Year despite strong challenges from finalists including WPP, SAB Miller, and Experian. While all ten of this year’s finalists had demonstrated impressive growth and shareholder return, Sainsbury’s differentiated itself with its commitment to sustainability - achieving 34 quarters of growth in a highly competitive sector, aligning social impact with commercial objectives at every level.
Answering the Prime Minister’s call to boost UK export, more small and medium sized enterprises are trading successfully overseas. Fever Tree, a finalist for International Growth Business of the Year, has beaten global giants to become a market leader in Spain, while last year’s winner, Ella’s Kitchen, is building its global brand with new investment from Hain Capital.
Proving that UK manufacturing and engineering is still in great demand, Oliver Valves fought off challenges from JacTravel, The Foundry and Lycamobile to win this year’s award. Judges praised the firm for anticipating change and constantly innovating in collaboration with demanding clients in the oil and gas industry. Sir David McMurtry, Chairman & CEO of Gloucestershire based engineering firm Renishaw, was honoured for four decades of designing, building and exporting world-class products – and for investing in the next generation of engineers through apprenticeship.
UK ecommerce still leads Europe in online sales generated, but it’s also helping a range of enabling businesses to prosper. This was the year of the couriers, with DPD UK winning the Customer Focus Award alongside Growth and New Business winners Hermes UK and wnDirect. The winner of the Digital Business of the Year award, The Beans Group, showed why British firms are leading in ecommerce – combining a deep understanding of both its customer base (in this case students) with innovative communication through web and mobile platforms.
A common characteristic of all those achieving impressive growth, at home and abroad, is innovation. Safetyflex Barriers, winner of the 2013 Innovation Award, joins a long line of innovators who continually invest in, and enable, improvement. Champions create a culture of innovation, nurture ‘corporate entrepreneurs’, and continually develop market leading products and services in collaboration with customers.
Leader of the Year finalist Mike Tobin, CEO of TelecityGroup, was praised by judges for creating a culture where people had permission to fail in the pursuit of excellence. Telecity was shortlisted for Croner Employer of the Year for this culture. The overall winner, UKFast, demonstrated an exceptional investment in its people – impressing judges with its commitment to attracting and keeping a diverse range of talent. MITIE, winner of the Leadership Diversity Award, has enabled talented, entrepreneurially-minded employees from all backgrounds to rise to positions of influence and improve performance by “taking a risk on people”, according to CEO and 2011 Leader of the Year Ruby McGregor-Smith.
Do you know enough about the talent in your business to take the risks that will make you a winner in 2014?