South Coast Business Awards winners and finalists announced

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The South Coast Business Awards was a chance to celebrate some of those who have kept the economy going during the toughest times in living memory.

Trophies were given out in 10 categories before the overall Business of the Year title went to Highfield Professional Solutions of Durley.

The awards were held by LOCALiQ, the digital marketing business of Hampshire Chronicle publisher Newsquest. They were sponsored by Starling Bank, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Utilita, the University of Southampton and GetSet Solent, and were open to any company based in Hampshire or the Isle of Wight.

The event was held at Southampton’s Football Club’s St Mary’s Stadium, with guests including Hampshire deputy lord lieutenant Simon Tufnell, Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead, Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes and Southampton City Council leader Satvir Kaur.

Newsquest’s regional associate editor, Andy Martin, hosted the awards ceremony.

On the day the Bank of England raised interest rates and predicted a two-year recession, he said it was great for businesses to have an opportunity to celebrate their successes in challenging times.

Daily Echo editor Ben Fishwick congratulated all those who had made the finals and pledged to support business in Hampshire.

“It’s really important we champion what you guys are doing as businesses in the local area,” he said.

He urged entrants to share the stories of their successes so the Daily Echo could report their positive news. “I would much rather see a positive, upbeat story on the front of the Echo – maybe the success that you’re having – than some of the bad stuff that we do have to report on,” he added.

Keynote speaker was Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black’s chocolate, which is now approaching a £100million brand worldwide.

She told how, having left school at 16 and becoming the UK’s youngest magazine editor, she launched her chocolate brand in 1992.

“I went to the end of the diving board and dived off and I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it,” she said.

She said the business had given away chocolate to journalists and to food writers such as Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver in its early days. “I do think there’s huge power in generosity. We’ve always said to people ‘If you’ve got a great product, give it away’,” she added.

She told how the brand had transformed lives in cocoa-growing villages, where in the past no children went to secondary school, but now 90 per cent did.

She said the legacy of this work continued after the business was sold to Cadbury. “We’ve managed to show them that doing good is good for business,” she added.

Green & Black’s was still “helping to change the world, one square of chocolate at a time”, she said.

She told the businesses present: “Make the most of your award. It’s an ever more crowded marketplace. You can really leverage your win or your shortlisting in your marketing, your website, your social media. Anything that will put your brand head and shoulders above the competition, grasp it as tightly as you can.”

The results were as follows.

Small Business of the Year Award. Winner: Roake Studio, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Finalists: Copello Global, Fareham; GottaBe! Marketing, Southampton; J&B Wholesale, Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

Best Use of Technology Award. Winner: Blue Apple Theatre, Winchester. Finalists: Hamble Catering; MiVoice, Southampton.

Business and the Community Award. Winner: Bespoke Biking, Winchester. Finalists: DEOS Group, Romsey; Silver Lining Convergence, Whiteley.

Mid-Large Business Award. Winner: Top Mops Ltd, Sandown, Isle of Wight. Finalists: Highfield Professional Solutions, Durley; Ridge and Partners, Winchester.

Innovation Excellence Awards. Winner: 123 Insight Limited, Southampton. Finalists: Dynamic Load Monitoring, Southampton; Silver Lining Convergence, Whiteley.

Employer of the Year. Award. Winner: Highfield Professional Solutions, Durley. Finalists: Copello Global, Fareham; Silver Lining Convergence, Whiteley.

Business Leader Award. Winner: Tomasz Dyl, GottaBe! Marketing. Finalists: Darren Cooper, Peter Cooper Motor Group; Richard Hand, Ridge and Partners.

New Business Award. Winner: One21 Fitness, Southampton. Finalists: AL-HQ Law & More, Southampton; Collecting Seashells Ltd, Fareham.

Entrepreneur Award. Winner: Cab My Ride, Southampton. Finalists: Isle of Wight Cocktail Co, Ryde; Medina Publishing, Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Service Excellence Award. Winner: Arcana Hair and Beauty, Winchester. Finalists: Highfield Professional Solutions, Durley; Top Mops Ltd, Sandown, Isle of Wight.

Business Of The Year Award: Highfield Professional Solutions, Durley.

The winners of each category will receive £250 of advertising in the Daily Echo.