The North East's top 200 businesses will be celebrated next week

The Top 200 event at Stadium of Light will also have discussion about the impact of Scottish devolution

NUBS_Professor John Wilson
NUBS_Professor John Wilson

Feats of our outstanding firms listed in the new North East Top 200 will be fittingly celebrated at a business breakfast next Tuesday at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

Besides award presentations to outstanding performers, the programme will include a lively, topical and significant question and answer session on the likely impact for North East business from the Scottish referendum.

Graham Robb, chairman of the Institute of Directors in the North East, will be host for the occasion and the panel will comprise four personalities from a wide business background in the region. They are:

  • John Craggs, deputy chief executive of Gentoo Group, who has more than 30 years’ experience in various housing organisations across the North East. He is a director of Sunderland Improvement District, a member of the regional leadership team at Business in the Community, and vice-chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce for Wearside
  • John Elliott, chairman of Ebac the Newton Aycliffe manufacturer of dehumidifiers which is also reintroducing the manufacture of washing machines to the UK. He was a leading campaigner against devolution for the North East when a referendum was held on the proposal in 2004.
  • Richard Farr, partner of Sanderson Weatherall the commercial property consultancy. A Fellow of the RICS, he has been working in the sector for 32 years. Recently he has been involved in regional projects such as South Shields Town Centre 360 version, the third Wear crossing for Sunderland, Central Park at Darlington, Blyth town centre renewal, and North Shore at Stockton.
  • Ross Smith, director of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce since 2012. He was previously head of policy and research there, and is also a former regional affairs correspondent of The Journal.

Graham Robb, besides his responsibilities at the IoD, is senior partner of Darlington based Recognition PR. He was a radio producer and presenter before founding Recognition PR in 1990. He has also stood as a candidate for parliament.

The event starts at 7.30am followed by a welcome from Journal editor Brian Aitken and breakfast at 8am.

Awards will be presented at 8.30am followed by a question and answer session discussing the likely impact of the Scottish referendum at 9am.

The new Top 200 list will be published exclusively in an 80-page supplement in The Journal next Wednesday.


Significance of the Top 200 companies is explained by Professor John Wilson, director of Newcastle University Business School.

“The Top 200 presents us with a business billboard for the North East: all dynamic businesses, expertly led but led for further growth,” he says.

“Through the authority of data, the publication shows how the region is building its capacity to shape and steer regional and national economic recovery.

“The 200 companies that have made the list are a great asset to the North East, and through the innovative newcomers, and the steadfast growth of Top 200 regulars it is clear that with their drive and the positive impact on supply chains our region and its workforce remains robust and resilient.”

Seven awards will be made: to the number one, and also to the highest climber, the highest new entrant, the top plc, the top PE funded, the top inbound company, and the top private company.


To reserve tables or tickets at the Top 200 breakfast - or for any further information - please contact Abbi Aitken, events manager, on tel 0191 201 6166 or email

Tables of 10 are available at £300 plus VAT, and individual tickets are available at £35 each plus VAT.



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