North East Business Awards: Fast-growing companies honoured

The Journal is seeking to highlight the achievements of North East firms that experienced significant growth in everything from turnover to headcount

The North East Business awards night at Hardwick Hall, Co Durham
The North East Business awards night at Hardwick Hall, Co Durham. Drinks reception

Companies that have demonstrated exceptional levels of growth for their size and sector are to be acknowledged for the first time at the North East Business Awards.

A new Let’s Grow award has been introduced at the event, run by The Journal and its sister paper on Teesside, the Gazette, with support from the North East Chamber of Commerce.

The qualify for entry, companies must have been trading for over 12 months.

In selecting the winner, judges will consider achievements over the past year, such as significant rises in sales, profit, market share or headcount; a move to bigger premises; or the creation of new premises in a different region.

The winning company will also likely have a solid business plan in place for the year ahead.

Welcoming the new award, Joanne Pratt, a fund manager at sponsor FW Capital in the North East, said: “Businesses grow successfully for a variety of reasons and this award will shine a light on the North East’s high achievers and why their turnover and profits are increasing.

“This may be because they’re developing innovative new products and services, providing outstanding levels of customer service or by adopting responsible and ethical approaches.

“The winner of the Let’s Grow award will have to clearly demonstrate what makes their business a success.”

She added that FW Capital could offer both short and long-term investment packages through the North East Growth Plus Fund and Tees Valley Catalyst Fund.

“More businesses are approaching us with ambitious growth plans and our flexible investment approach continues to be an attractive proposition,” she said.

“I’m sure this award will be hotly contested if the entrants demonstrate the talent and entrepreneurial flair of the management teams we’ve been meeting recently.”

Swinburne Maddison LLP, one of the region’s leading contemporary legal practices, which itself continues to grow, will also be sponsoring the award.

This year, the practice has made nine new appointments, adding significantly to its highly experienced team, the most recent being Simon Robinson, who joined the company’s well respected property team as a partner.

With a growing reputation for offering a range of progressive, forward-thinking services that meet real and current needs, Swinburne Maddison acts for a diverse client base including SMEs, public sector bodies and private individuals.

As a first-time sponsor at the Awards, the practice was keen to select a category that would reflect its own expansion.

It said in a statement: “Like the eventual winner, the practice has benefited from effective leadership and management and improved growth in turnover and profitability year-on-year throughout the challenging economic climate, engages fully with both clients and staff and takes an ethical approach to business.

“Furthermore, Swinburne Maddison is also proud of its policy for supporting the local community, sponsoring a number of events and local groups.”

Another growing company giving its support for the award is Newcastle International Airport, which has expanded considerable during its 79-year history to the point that last year it served 4.46m passengers.

The airport’s infrastructure has also come a long way, with substantial developments over the last decade, including a £3.2m terminal extension housing an expanded security search area, a £14m departure lounge development, which began in April 2014, and other key developments such as a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, a fuel farm and a filling station.

Plans were also announced earlier this year for the Newcastle International Airport Business Park, which marks a significant future development at the airport, which was named Best Large UK Airport by readers of Which? Travel in 2013 and 2014.

Chief executive Dave Laws said: “This award is about celebrating businesses harnessing their potential and talent to drive their business forward.

“We want to highlight businesses going that extra mile delivering sustainable growth in terms of turnover and profitability, as well as those with a dedication to customer and staff engagement and an ethical approach to business.

“We’re looking to unearth the best of North East business community though this new award. Good luck to the entrants!”

The final sponsor is the University of Sunderland, for which supporting the regional economy has always been a key driver.

A spokesman said: “It is something the institution has been doing for many decades - from support for the shipbuilding and coal industries in the past to companies in the software and advanced manufacturing sectors in the present.

“The university provides support to the widest possible range of businesses from multi-national corporations to local family-owned businesses.

“The university will tailor a package of support to any business that wishes to innovate and grow to develop into well-established businesses that contribute to the wealth of the North East.

“That is why the University of Sunderland is pleased to support the new Let’s Grow category within the North-East Business Awards.”

Over the year, Sunderland University has successfully supported hundreds of regional companies in their efforts to grow their operations, enhance productivity and increase profit margins.

This has been achieved through a range of methods, including providing graduates with the skills needed for retraining existing staff in the workforce, collaborating on innovate new products and processes, and providing commercial access to specialist research facilities.

The university said: “The one thing that companies of all sizes say characterises working with the University of Sunderland is the extent to which it strives to understand their needs and aspirations.

“Taking a personal approach to each business relationship the University is renowned for listening to and accurately diagnosing needs and creating a bespoke plan of action.

“Plans are then managed by a Business Development team which is responsive, flexible and most importantly accessible.”



The awards are in association with NECC and sponsored by a whole host of companies and organisations. The sheer quality and the blue-chip nature of the sponsors adds to the prestige and gravitas of the awards.

For more information and to become a sponsor, contact Sue Coulson, head of regional events on 0191 201 6072.


Each award has a separate judging panel with an appropriate chairperson, nominated by the award sponsor. The decision of each judging panel is final and, while every effort will be made to give feedback to entrants, no specific correspondence will be entered into.


Tyneside & Northumberland Business Awards – 26th February 2015 at The Marriott Hotel, Gosforth

Durham & Wearside Business Awards – 12th March 2015 at Ramside Hall, Durham.

Teesside Business Awards – 26th March 2015 at The Olympia Building, Teesside University

North East Business Awards Regional Final – 23rd April 2015 at Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield.


Company of the Year – sponsored by Deloitte, Sunderland City Council & Port of Tyne

Small Business Award – sponsored by Bernicia, FWCapital and University of Sunderland

Export Award – sponsored by UKTI and Port of Sunderland

Innovation Award – sponsored by Newcastle University Business School and GE Oil & Gas

Digital and Social Media Award – sponsored by Sintons Law Firm and Teesside University

Newcomer of the Year Award – sponsored by Virgin Money

Heart of the Community Award – sponsored by Derwentside Homes & Alex Smiles Ltd

Green Award – Opportunity to Sponsor

Manufacturing Award – sponsored by University of Sunderland, ABB Consulting & Business Durham

Apprenticeship Award – sponsored by Esh Group & Tees Valley Unlimited

Lets Grow Award – sponsored by FW Capital, University of Sunderland, Newcastle International Airport and Swinburne Maddison LLP

Services Award – sponsored by Npower & Middlesbrough College

Not-for-profit Organisation of the Year (Regional Final Only) – sponsored by Gentoo

Best Creative Business (Regional Final Only) – Opportunity to Sponsor

Some of the above categories are fully sponsored. However, opportunities are still available for certain categories.


Companies and organisations can enter a maximum of three separate categories. Entries must relate to activity during 2014. Do you know of a company who deserves an award? Please let us know about them and get in touch with us.

Awards are open to companies of all sizes and organisations with a significant presence in any of the sub-regions. The closing date for entries is 5pm on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Nominations can be made online at: . Queries can be answered by Sue Coulson, head of regional events, ncjMedia Ltd, Groat Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1ED. Tel. 0191 201 6072 or email


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer