Utilitywise chief Geoff Thompson takes top award

The head of the first North East firm to be listed on the stock market for five years won a top business award in Manchester last night

Geoff Thompson of Utilitywise
Geoff Thompson of Utilitywise

The head of the first North East firm to be listed on the stock market for five years won a top business award in Manchester last night.

Geoff Thompson of South Shields-based Utilitywise, which helps around 15,000 businesses reduce their electricity, gas and water bills, took home the emerging award at the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

The judges, who expect further growth to come from the fast-expanding firm, said Thompson had “found a terrific product that was unfinished, put the time and money in, and is now reaping the rewards”.

Meanwhile, James Lambert, CEO of R&R Ice Cream in Northallerton, took away Ernst & Young’s Overall North Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 title.

Recently awarded an OBE in recognition of his work in the manufacturing industry, Lambert was described by the judges as “having bold vision with an appetite for detail. He has grown the business phenomenally, developing new and existing brands”.

R&R Ice Cream is Europe’s largest own label ice-cream manufacturer and supplier of a powerful portfolio of branded products. Lambert’s entrepreneurial skills have helped transform R&R Ice Cream from a £250,000 turnover business employing five people, to one with a pan-European workforce of nearly 3,000 and a turnover approaching £700m.

The international award went to Steve Parkin of Cramlington-based baby brand accessory firm Mayborn Group.

Recently the company, which owns the Tommee Tippee brand, has gone into overdrive on their exports, dramatically increasing their market share with a swoop into the US market. The judges highlighted that international revenue has accelerated from 40% to more than 60% of turnover.

Last to be honoured from the North East was Thornaby-based Graeme Oram of The Five Lamps Organisation, in the social enterprise category.

The Judges commented that Oram “oozes enthusiasm for his business and his staff”. An idea which grew from home, last year Five Lamps featured in the Sunday Times ‘Best Places to Work’ list.

Held at the Hilton Deansgate Manchester, the dinner honoured 12 business leaders in 11 categories, who were judged and selected from 48 entrepreneurs leading 41 companies, from across the North West, Yorkshire and North East.

All Northern winners will represent the region at the UK finals in October, and have a chance to compete at Ernst & Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year in Monaco next year.

North East Entrepreneur Of The Year leader at Ernst & Young Simon Whiteside, said: “The amount of respect a country has for its entrepreneurs runs in direct correlation with its rates of entrepreneurialism. Britain will only achieve its full economic potential in the world when we learn to really love our entrepreneurs.”

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