This issues Business Hour was actually six hours that Helen Sanderson spent ‘wine-ing’, dining and dancing with the business elite from across Lancashire. The business community came to together on the 17th September, in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom dressed in their finest clothes to celebrate their resilience over the past 18-months. Photography: BIBAs/Clive Lawrence
The Be Inspired Business Awards is the longest running, largest and most prestigious business awards ceremony. Run by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce the BIBAS is hailed as ‘the one award they all want to win’.
North West supermarket chain Booths was named the Business of the Year in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 1,000 people who were entertained by The Shane Richie Band, fronted by the Eastenders’ actor who performed a lively selection of hit songs from the 80s.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce which organises the awards, said the event was “a perfect celebration” after a tough 18-months for the county’s business community during the Covid-19 pandemic. The last time it was held was in 2019.
She said: “Lancashire businesses have used innovation, enthusiasm and sheer hard work to overcome so many challenges over the past 18-months, and The BIBAs was the perfect way to recognise them.
“Regardless of the sector they are in or the size of the business we have had to dig deep and rely on the character of our people to get us through this tough period.
“Now we are hopefully coming out of the other side we can use the inspiration of all those businesses involved in the BIBAs to help return us to growth.”
Northern food and drink retailer Booths won the top prize of business of the year. Graham Booth, Director said: “It has been an incredibly difficult 18-months for everyone, this award comes as something of a recognition for all the hard work everyone has put in. We are delighted to have won this honour.”
For the first time, the awards judging team decided against presenting its annual lifetime achievement award, Lancastrian of the Year, instead focussing on recognising the achievements of the companies across the county. Babs said: “The successes we celebrated at The BIBAs were a recognition of a real collective success by so many people, it did not seem right to single out an individual this year.”
Despite the relaxation of restrictions around gatherings, the BIBAs’ organisers still had restrictions in place with all guests showing negative Covid-19 test results upon arrival. Inside the Tower Ballroom, all guests had access to hand sanitiser on their tables to ensure all attendees remained safe.
The night belonged to those Lancashire businesses which had overcome adversity, including the owners of the Longlands Hotel near Carnforth, which collected the Most Resilient Business of the Year award sponsored by UCLan Business. Other winners on the night included Preston chemicals firm Evans Vanodine which won the Family Business of the Year, Lancaster textiles firm Standfast and Barracks which collected the Manufacturer of the Year and Preston Vocational Centre, the winner of the Education Establishment of the Year. Ross Brown of Lytham-based Melling Performance Springs won the Apprentice of the Year prize and Blackburn-based Sales Geek was named the Scale Up Business of the Year.
The night was hosted by top business commentator and former investment banker Justin Urquhart-Stewart with Lancashire-based international opera star Sean Ruane performing for the audience, and celebrity Shane Ritchie entertaining guests until the early hours. Justin Urquhart-Stewart said: “This night was about what Lancashire business have achieved in the past year. Lancashire has always had a great spirit as shown throughout the pandemic. The winning businesses have proved the red rose is blooming!”
Each award came with a cheque of £2,000 for the winning businesses to invest in a project of their choice. Booths have decided to donate their fund to the Harris Charity of which the original EH Booth was a founder in 1883. The Harris Charity helps young people in hardship move forward in life.
Edwin Booth, Chair and CEO of Booths says: “My great, great grandfather Edwin Henry Booth believed in giving back. Orphaned at the age of 11, by age 19 he was a tea dealer, opening his first shop in Blackpool. He found what he excelled at and became a founding trustee of the Harris Orphanage, now the Harris Charity, which supports young persons in difficulty, ensuring that talents are not constrained through lack of opportunity. It seems fitting that winning an award in Blackpool, just a few yards from the very beginnings of Booths, should be reinvested to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Business of the Year: Booths
Digital & Marketing Business of the Year: Soap Media
Innovative Business of the Year: Levity Crop Science
Medium Business of the Year: Cherry Tree Bakery
Community Business of the Year: Pendleside Hospice
Green Business of the Year: Old Holly Farm
Micro-Business of the Year: Hoofcount
Family Business of the Year: Evans Vanodine
Construction Business of the Year: Elektec
Employer of the Year: Service Care Solutions
Scale-Up Business of the Year: Sales Geek
Most Resilient Business of the Year: Barry Robinson Leisure, Longlands Hotel
Global Business of the Year: Levity Crop Science
Apprentice of the Year: Ross Brown, Melling Performance Springs
Start Up Business of the Year: Scoff Paper
Education Establishment of the Year: Preston Vocational Centre
Manufacturer of the Year: Standfest & Barracks
Service Business of the Year: Cube HR
Small Business of the Year: Nutree Life