Good luck to all our 2023 Finalists!
In addition to celebrating the finalists in all the below categories, we'll also be presenting The Prince's Trust Young Achiever Award, a Special Recognition Award and an Outstanding Contribution Award on the evening.
Anuj Ashar- Beta Booster
Beta Booster, led by 22-year-old entrepreneur Anuj Ashar, is an AI platform revolutionising tech development. It reduces costs by 95% below the global average by using NLP to translate clients' business goals into precise technical specifications. An Uber-like model connects projects with pre-vetted freelancers, eliminating human intervention and reducing project time from 3 months to 2 weeks. Anuj, a serial tech entrepreneur, founded A-Pay at 18, gaining recognition from Innovate UK and the United Nations. Beta Booster's success includes projects for unicorn startup MirZyme Therapeutics and a projected 300% growth in 2023. The Leicestershire Live Business Awards nomination celebrates Anuj's achievements and Beta Booster's technical prowess.
Joe Carnan - Imperial Roofing Supplies
Established in 1999, their family-run company in Cossington, Leicestershire, offers impartial advice and a wide selection of quality brands and reclaimed products, serving Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Loughborough, and Lincolnshire. Joe Carnan, who joined them in 2012 at 19, started in yard work and delivery driving, later excelling in office administration and finance using Quickbooks. During the pandemic, Joe became Interim General Manager, overseeing team management, stock ordering, and finances. In October 2022, he was promoted to General Manager, contributing to their growth with a £3.8m turnover in 2023. His investments in warehouse operations, team recruitment, and more support their future plans, including sustainability efforts and community initiatives.
Laura Till - AMBITION Sports Coaching Ltd
Laura established AMBITION at 21, specialising in Special Educational Needs and Social, Emotional, and Mental Health support for schools and alternative provisions. They provide Sports Coaches, Teaching Assistants, and support services to rejuvenate staff enthusiasm.
AMBITION also offers 1-1 family support, home visits, and academic aid. Laura's passion for sports and her resilience, despite past bullying and a 2019 accident, led to the company's creation. Despite ongoing treatment for physical and psychological trauma, Laura aims to inspire by running the Leicester Half Marathon on October 1st, raising funds for mental health support through AMBITION. She emphasises the message of never giving up on dreams, no matter the challenges faced.
Fix Auto Leicester
Fix Auto Leicester, a prominent car body repair expert in Leicestershire, operates from Beeches Farm facility in Whetstone. They boast the prestigious BSI 10125 Kitemark for Vehicle Damage Repair and manufacturer approvals. A 2022 British Bodyshop Awards finalist, they're among the UK's top bodyshops. Originating in 1970 as Bowles Vehicle Repair, they're one of the region's longest-standing bodywork shops. Anticipating a remarkable 53% turnover increase for 2023, their strategy involves expanding manufacturer approvals, harnessing digital marketing, and ongoing staff development. Future plans include workshop expansion, car park improvements, security enhancements, and additional manufacturer approvals, all underpinned by their commitment to innovation and service excellence.
Ocean King Ltd
Ocean King Ltd, founded by Derek and Steven Thai in 1997, has seen remarkable growth over 26 years. From a small prawn delivery service, it has transformed into a comprehensive restaurant essentials provider. Recent expansion in Derby aligns with the company's ten-year vision to cover the entire UK. Within three years, it aims to employ 150 people, up from the initial 25 in Feb 2023, fueled by a commitment to core values and the mission of "Creating Opportunities, Enriching Lives." Future plans include strategically-placed hubs, a minimum order strategy, and enhanced strategic oversight.
Unique Window Systems Ltd
Unique Window Systems, specialising in uPVC and Aluminum windows, doors, and curtain walling, has witnessed exceptional growth over three years, with projects now exceeding £5 million, compared to the previous £1.5 million limit. Their 2020 turnover of £20.8 million surged to £39.2 million by December 2022. Strategically based in Leicester, they've leveraged their location for timely nationwide deliveries, especially to growing markets in the West Midlands and the North. Their commitment to customer satisfaction, product quality, and service excellence, along with proactive problem-solving, has fuelled this impressive growth, securing long-term contracts and future success.
Abacus Flooring Solutions Ltd
Abacus Flooring Solutions, led by founder Nick Megson, is a sustainable resin flooring company. In just three years, Nick transformed the firm into a £1 million+ annual turnover business. Their groundbreaking Abaplas, a patented resin flooring made from recycled waste plastic, is reshaping the industry by replacing traditional materials like silica sand. Abaplas reduces landfill waste and offers customization options, such as recycling plastic seats from Wembley Stadium. Abacus is in discussions with global organisations to expand its adoption, showcasing the material's potential for sustainability. Their innovative solutions, as seen at Coventry College, emphasise cost-effectiveness and environmental responsibility.
Beta Booster, led by 22-year-old entrepreneur Anuj Ashar, is an innovation-driven AI platform. It slashes development costs by 95% below the global average, empowering startups and SMEs. Its AI-powered web-app uses NLP to understand clients' business goals and match them with pre-vetted freelancers, removing communication barriers. This streamlined process reduces project completion time from three months to two weeks. Anuj's prior success includes a UN-recognized project. Beta Booster democratises tech development globally and boasts rapid growth, with 300% expected in 2023. Plans include team expansion, international market targeting, and raising £5,000,000 in seed-level equity funding.
IMA Architects (IMA) is a prominent Midlands-based architectural firm specialising in logistical warehousing. With a strong portfolio of 200+ national projects and 75 ongoing in the UK, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia, IMA serves notable clients like Marks & Spencer and Toyota. Their pioneering 'Digital Twin' prototype offers real-time building data, simplifying management in an MSDOS-to-Windows leap. Linked with Building Information Modelling (BIM), it has the potential to reduce construction costs by 33%, expedite delivery by 50%, and cut emissions by 50%. IMA Architects' innovation has earned recognition at the Leicestershire Live Business Awards, setting new standards in architectural excellence.
Small Business of the Year
Imperial Roofing Supplies
Imperial, a family-run roofing merchant since 1999, operates independently in Cossington, Leicestershire. They provide impartial advice, serving trade and the public with a wide range of roofing products. Their impressive growth, from £500k in 2018 to £3.8m in 2023, reflects their support for roofing contractors in starting and growing their businesses. Over the past two years, Imperial invested £250k to boost productivity and customer service quality, including new premises, expert teams, specialised vehicles, and training. Their competitive edge lies in community support, offering emergency deliveries, tailored plans, free training, and supplier visits. Future growth strategies include key account management, product range expansion, marketing investments, resource augmentation, and community engagement.
Micro Weighing Solutions
Micro Weighing Solutions (MWS), founded in 1998, leads the UK industrial weighing scale industry. Offering end-to-end solutions, including design, manufacturing, installation, and software, MWS serves diverse industries like food, pharmaceuticals, and more. Notable achievements include a pioneering vehicle weighbridge, a cost-saving collaboration with a leading FMCG manufacturer, and a groundbreaking lifetime guarantee for product integrity. MWS has expanded its Leicester facility and maintains strong growth, increasing revenue by 10% during the pandemic. The company prioritises its skilled team, with apprenticeship programs and continuous learning opportunities.
Ocean King Ltd
Ocean King Ltd, founded in 1997 by Derek and Steven Thai, is a family-driven business that has grown from humble beginnings to a comprehensive restaurant supply company. Their recent expansion into Derby aligns with their goal to serve the entire UK, employing 150 people. Notably, they achieved a remarkable 45% increase in turnover in 2022, reaching £12 million with an 18% Gross Margin. Their visionary plan includes strategically placed hubs across the UK and a strong commitment to sustainability. Ocean King's entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to innovation, and social responsibility make them an exceptional nominee, exemplifying resilience and excellence.
Teddy’s Raw Pet Food
Teddy's Raw Pet Food, founded by Ellis and Jess in Whitwick Coalville, is a standout business for several compelling reasons. They offer high-quality raw pet food and natural products while creating a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere. Ellis and Jess prioritise local sourcing, supporting neighbouring producers and engaging in community initiatives that boost the local economy. Their commitment to nutrition and community well-being makes Teddy's Raw Pet Food an invaluable asset to Whitwick Coalville.
Global Britain Award
UK business software company Access Group is rapidly expanding its presence in Europe, creating hundreds of jobs. The firm is establishing new offices in Romania and Ireland as part of its global growth strategy. In Timisoara, Romania, where it opened a global operations centre in May, the company plans to double its workforce from 375 to over 700 by the end of 2023. Simultaneously, Access Group is centralising its Irish workforce in Cork, where they will collaborate with 500 companies across Ireland. With a value of £9.2 billion, the company is a leading provider of business management software.
Flexeserve's global success can be credited to its innovative hot-holding equipment and hot food-to-go solutions. They have expanded from the UK to partner with global retail giants like Amazon, Circle K, and Starbucks. Their unique Flexeserve Solution offers improved sales, reduced kitchen pressure, better food quality, and sustainability, addressing evolving consumer preferences. Investments in international logistics, distributor networks, and digital technology have facilitated global growth. Their commitment to innovation and sustainability resonates with the changing foodservice landscape, positioning Flexeserve as a leader in the industry and enabling them to help customers "sell more and waste less" worldwide.
Watches of Switzerland
The Watches of Switzerland Group, led by CEO Brian Duffy, reports robust demand for luxury watches despite economic challenges. In the year ending April, the group, which includes Mappin and Webb and Goldsmiths brands, achieved record sales exceeding £1.5 billion, a 25% increase. US sales soared over 50% to £653 million, driven in part by rising luxury watch prices. Management sees untapped potential in the US market and is expanding in Europe, with eight mono-brand boutiques launched in the past year. The group plans significant store openings, including locations in the US, the Netherlands, and the UK, reflecting the enduring allure of luxury timepieces.
Ashiedu Joel - Ashioma Consults Ltd
Ashiedu Joel - Ashioma Consults Ltd
Founded in 2018 by Ashiedu Joel, Ashioma Consults specialises in cross-cultural partnerships and empowering Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. They promote inclusivity and cultural sensitivity in diverse environments. Beyond consultancy, Ashiedu serves as an advisory partner and trustee for various charities. She also holds roles as a Non-Executive Director at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, a member of the University of Sheffield's Audit Committee, and an elected Ward Councillor in Leicester City. In 2022, she pursued MP candidacy, aiming to represent BME communities and inspire young Black women in politics, reflecting her unwavering commitment to positive change.
Steven Thai - Ocean King Ltd
Stephen Thai, a Vietnamese refugee, established Ocean King Ltd in 1997, a premium prawn wholesaler. Over the years, it grew into a major supplier of fresh and frozen food for UK Asian restaurants. The company is relocating to a £5 million facility in Derby, expecting to expand its workforce from 30 to 150. The 32,000 sq ft site will feature offices, a warehouse, "nap pods" for staff, a language school, shared professional spaces, a wellbeing café, business hub, trade, public counters, and solar panels for green energy.
Laura Till - AMBITION Sports Coaching Ltd
Laura founded AMBITION at 21, specialising in Special Educational Needs and Mental Health support for schools. The organisation eases staffing challenges, stress, and targets by providing Sports Coaches and Teaching Assistants. A 2019 accident left her with PTSD and physical trauma, but it changed her perspective. Laura created AMBITION Sports Coaching Ltd, employing 10 staff to offer support in multiple regions. She supports charities like the Little Beam Foundation and Menphys, participating in fundraising events. Laura's determination to overcome obstacles and inspire others reflects her message: never give up on your dreams, no matter the challenge.
Environmental and Sustainability Award
Abacus Flooring Solutions
Abacus Flooring Solutions, founded in 2020, is an innovative resin flooring company committed to sustainability. Their groundbreaking invention, Abaplas, uses 100% recycled waste plastic instead of harmful traditional materials, transforming the flooring industry. Abaplas has already been installed at JCB and Wembley Stadium, providing an eco-friendly solution. This innovation addresses the global plastic pollution crisis, potentially replacing silica sand in various industries, offering environmental benefits. Abacus's commitment to sustainability extends to Abaplas Recycling Limited, further reducing plastic waste, promoting a cleaner environment, and sparking global interest in their groundbreaking process.
Hotel Brooklyn Leicester (Bespoke Hotels)
Committed to sustainability, Hotel Brooklyn Leicester partners with Green Tourism to reduce its carbon footprint. LED lighting, minimal single-use packaging, and eco-friendly toiletries are just a few initiatives to minimise waste and energy use. Water-saving fixtures and optional housekeeping conserve resources. Recycling, local sourcing, bee-friendly gardens, and paperless operations further reinforce their commitment to sustainable tourism. This eco-conscious approach positions the hotel as a beacon of green hospitality in Leicester.
Unique Window Systems Ltd
Unique Window Systems, a leading provider of uPVC and Aluminium windows, prioritises sustainability. With 300 employees, they've upgraded their fleet for eco-friendliness, optimised production to reduce waste, and implemented robust recycling, even for cardboard. ISO 14001:2015 certification underscores their commitment and employee education fosters a culture of responsibility. Sustainability is integrated into their long-term strategy, with an emphasis on eco-friendly practices throughout the supply chain. Their dedication to environmental stewardship is evident in these initiatives.
Made In Britain Award
The US machinery giant's Leicestershire plant, its largest in the UK, produces backhoe loaders and compact wheel loaders for various industries, including mining, marine, construction, and more. Despite slipping to 18th place in this year's BusinessLive Top 500 East Midlands Companies list, the firm is expected to maintain a top 20 position. In 2021, the company reported a turnover of approximately £1 billion, with pre-tax profits at £52.4 million, up from £43.4 million the previous year. Sales were divided between Europe (£524 million) and the rest of the world (£473 million), with a total of 2,149 employees.
Flexeserve, a local success, has achieved global prominence through innovation in hot-holding equipment and hot food-to-go solutions. Starting with a revolution in the UK's supermarket foodservice, it evolved into a major player on the global stage. A 2022 rebrand solidified its position as a Leicestershire SME partnering with giants like Amazon, Circle K, and Starbucks. The Flexeserve Solution, offering more than manufacturing, has improved sales, sustainability, food quality, and reduced waste. The US market is a focal point, attracting major clients like Circle K and Starbucks, underlining Flexeserve's remarkable journey from local triumph to global success.
Micro Weighing Solutions
Founded in 1998, Leicester-based Micro Weighing Solutions (MWS) is a prominent player in the UK's industrial weighing scale industry. They provide end-to-end weighing solutions, including design, manufacturing, and ongoing service, across various sectors. MWS stands out for its commitment to quality, manufacturing a diverse range of scales, including innovative solutions for vehicle weighing. Recent milestones include a groundbreaking vehicle weighbridge system and a partnership with a ready-made meal manufacturer, projected to save over £1 million. MWS's unwavering dedication, expansion in Leicester, and impressive growth make it a deserving contender for the Made in Britain Award.
Business Person of the Year
Nick Megson - Abacus Flooring Solutions
Nick Megson, owner of Abacus Flooring Solutions, is a standout manager for his transformative leadership. In just three years, he's propelled the company from a startup to a £1.5 million turnover business. His pioneering invention, Abaplas, replaces traditional flooring materials with recycled waste plastic, earning global acclaim. Nick's dedication to sustainability extends through his service on industry boards and founding Abaplas Recycling Limited. His philanthropic endeavours benefit local sports teams, charities, and communities. Nick's remarkable ability to blend business success with environmental responsibility makes him a strong contender for recognition in the LeicestershireLive Business Awards.
Steven Thai - Ocean King Ltd
Established in 1997 by Derek and Steven Thai, Ocean King Ltd has evolved into a diverse eatery supplier from a prawn delivery service. Expanding into Derby and aiming to employ 150 people in three years, they target Far East Asian cuisine establishments across the Midlands and beyond.
Steven's leadership, strategic acumen, and commitment to quality are evident in Ocean King's impressive 45% turnover growth and successful Derby expansion. He fosters an entrepreneurial culture that promotes innovation and a supportive work environment. Additionally, Steven prioritises social responsibility through eco-friendly practices, community support, and diversity initiatives.
Colette Wyatt - Evolved Ideas
Colette Wyatt, CEO of Evolved Ideas, stands out as an exceptional manager for her resolute leadership. She orchestrated a successful Management Buy Out during the pandemic, demonstrating vision and determination. Facing the Ukrainian crisis, where over 80% of the team was impacted, Colette's swift and decisive actions ensured the company's stability. Under her guidance, Evolved Ideas achieved consistent revenue growth, reaching £3.55 million in FY 2023. Colette's commitment to building a diverse and talented workforce and her ambitious strategy to triple growth to £10 million within three years highlight her visionary leadership. She is a standout manager in the industry.
Best Place to Work
Central Electrical Services (Hinckley) Ltd
The medium-sized electrical contracting business excels in providing comprehensive electrical solutions. Central Electrical Services, a family-run contractor, offers a personalised, collaborative work environment with direct leadership access, career growth, and work-life balance. The company values learning and ethical practices, ensuring job security, recognition, and advancement within a close-knit community. Working for Central Electrical Services means being part of a dedicated family that values each individual's contribution, making it an exceptional place to build a fulfilling career in the electrical industry.
The Consultus International Group
Consultus International Group, a leader in energy consultancy and Net Zero solutions, recently earned a "very good" employer rating from Best Companies, reflecting an impressive 4.25/5 average employee happiness score. They specialise in helping businesses worldwide achieve carbon-neutral goals by reducing energy consumption, cutting costs, managing risk, and enhancing energy security. With transparent communication, weekly focus sessions, and the 'Talent LMS,' Consultus prioritises employee development. Combining energy expertise with a supportive work environment, they emphasise employee well-being and growth.
Smith Partnership, trading as Smiths Solicitors LLP, is a prominent legal firm in the East Midlands with over 190 employees across six offices. They offer comprehensive legal services, earning 'tier one' recognition. The firm's commitment to personal development and internal promotion is evident in transparent advancement processes, lauded in the Lexcel 2023 report. They actively support apprenticeships, emphasise diversity, and engage with local educational institutions, fostering inclusivity and community involvement. Smith Partnership's dedication to staff development and inclusivity makes them a top workplace nominee.
Business of the Year
Flexeserve is an exceptional company that has reshaped the hot food industry. As a world-leading hot-holding equipment manufacturer and hot food-to-go specialist, it has transformed foodservice for UK supermarkets and global retailers. The company's unique Flexeserve Solution reduces food waste by up to 100%, elevates sales, improves food quality, and promotes sustainability. Flexeserve's roots as a Leicestershire SME, now working with global giants like Amazon, Circle K, Greggs, and Starbucks, exemplify its local success. Additionally, its global expansion into the Americas, partnering with major brands, showcases its international acclaim as a hot-holding industry leader.
Imperial Roofing Supplies
Imperial Roofing Merchants is an exemplary business in the roofing industry. Established in 1999 as a family-run, independent roofing merchant, Imperial stands out due to its unbiased expert advice, extensive industry experience, and unwavering commitment to customer service. With remarkable growth from £500k in 2018 to £3.8m in 2023, they have not only flourished but also empowered numerous roofing contractors to succeed. Investing in productivity and quality improvements, they have ensured customer loyalty through enhanced service and support. Imperial's dedication to community engagement, carbon footprint reduction, and future growth strategies further solidify their reputation as an exceptional company.
Ocean King Ltd
Ocean King Ltd is an exceptional family business with a 26-year track record of success. Founded by Derek and Steven Thai, it has grown impressively, achieving a 45% increase in turnover, reaching £12 million, all while maintaining an 18% gross margin in 2022. Their values-driven approach, encapsulated in their mission "Creating Opportunities, Enriching Lives," has energised their team and fueled ambitious expansion plans. With strategic growth initiatives, like expanding into a 32,000 sqft warehouse and focusing on high-revenue customers, Ocean King Ltd demonstrates a clear commitment to excellence and efficiency, making it a standout business in the food industry.