NOW is your chance to become the cream of the crop of the region’s businesses.

Nominations for the South Coast Business Awards 2014 are now open after a lavish launch event at the Grand Cafe in Southampton.

Nine prestigious awards will be handed out to the region’s top firms at the official glittering black tie ceremony this July.

The Daily Echo has organised the annual event in association with leading law firm Trethowans and in partnership with Business South and Destination Southampton. The awards aim to raise standards, encourage competition, and recognise business excellence.

Guests from businesses across the south attended the launch last night to enjoy drinks and canapés before the awards were launched by the Daily Echo.

Trethowans’ managing partner Simon Rhodes and Newsquest Hampshire managing director Amanda Davison-Young, joined Daily Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray to launch the awards.

He said: “It’s an awards evening to die for. It’s a fantastic event.

“We have got so much we need to celebrate through business and enterprise in this region. I want to say how brilliant our business community has been through the hard times. We all pulled together and have come through as one of the vibrant areas in the country.”

There will be two new categories and a new sponsor in this year’s competition.

The Business South Commitment to the Region Award will recognise the business or organisation that has demonstration commitment to the region as a major employer and involvement with their community.

The Smith and Williamson Award for Best International Performance by a South Coast Company will be awarded to the firm that has best developed the international element of its business over the last three years.

New sponsor Hampshire County Council is supporting the Growth Business of the Year Award.

Mr Rhodes said: “It’s great to be able to give a boost of confidence by showcasing successful businesses from around the region.

“I would like to thank the Daily Echo and all of the sponsors for being prepared to try and get the ball rolling and get that confidence started and hopefully that will spread from the success stories.”

Last year’s big winner was the Segensworth-based Saab Seaeye, which scooped the Trethowans Business of the Year Award.

To enter, visit or request an entry form by emailing



Taylor Made Computer Solutions Award for Best Use of Technology The winner of this award will have used technology to create considerable competitive or operational improvement such as improved quality, customer satisfaction and revenue. It will also have demonstrated success through the innovative application of a new idea, product, method or process.

Southampton City Council Award for Southampton Young Entrepreneur of the Year This award is given to an individual aged 30 or younger based within the Southampton district whom the judges consider can best demonstrate exceptional vision, initiative, creativity and leadership with the ability to identify and develop opportunities.

British American Tobacco Award for Commitment to Education and Training This award recognises organisations that make a significant contribution to the continuous training and education of its employees and will go to a company that can demonstrate how investment in training has improved performance, created a motivated and effective workforce and brought success.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award A dynamic company with less than 25 employees demonstrating all round excellence in business will win this award.

The judging will focus on financial performance, future objectives and the competitive advantage of the business. It will also look at examples of specific strategies which have driven business growth.

Baker Tilly Award for Customer Service This award is in recognition of companies with a genuine and innovative focus on customer service and care. The winner will demonstrate a clear relationship between customer service activity and improved business performance and will show how engaging employee enthusiasm for customer care drives business growth.

Business South Commitment to the Region Award Business South is keen to recognise a business or organisation that has demonstrated real commitment to the region as a major employer and involvement with their community, one that has supported the local economy, aided graduate retention in the region and showcased the area as a great place to do business.

Hampshire County Council Growth Business of the Year Award This award will be given to the business, that has managed to show sustainable and consistent growth during 2013 and has flourished against a backdrop of continuing economic difficulties.

Entrants will need to be able to demonstrate consistent sustainable growth at either the turnaround or earnings level over the last two years and expect that growth to continue for the foreseeable future.

Smith & Williamson Award for Best International Performance by a South Coast Company Smith & Williamson is looking to give its award to the company, which in its view, has best developed the international element of its business over the last 3 years. The winner will demonstrate one or more of the following – an increase in exports, expansion of overseas operations or entrance into new markets.

Trethowans Overall Winner’s Award And, finally as we have already heard from Simon, the Trethowans Overall Winner’s Award to which all category finalists will be entered.