TONIGHT is the night when the south coast’s top companies join to celebrate the launch of the region’s premier business awards.

Southampton’s Grand Harbour Hotel will be the venue for tonight’s launch of the South Coast Business Awards 2013.

Organised by the Daily Echo in association with leading law firm Trethowans, the awards aim to raise standards, encourage competition and recognise business excellence.

They are being run in partnership with Business Solent and Destination Southampton.

Guests will enjoy drinks and canapés as details are revealed of this year’s competition celebrating the best of business across the central south region.

There will be a chance to meet the sponsors and learn about the categories for which awards will be handed out.

This year’s awards evening will be held in July.

Last year’s big winners were Southampton-based Salon Supplies, which won the acclaimed Trethowans Business of the Year Award and the Smith & Williamson Growth Business Award.

Founded in Chandler’s Ford 35 years ago, the hair products wholesaler grew from being run from a lock-up garage to achieving a £9.4m of turnover, seven branches, 16 field sales consultants and 85 staff.

Guest speaker at last year’s awards ceremony was Olympic swimming medallist Sharron Davies who gave an insight into the tense 1980 Moscow Games, in which she competed when aged just 17.

She co-hosted the event alongside Daily Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray.