THE winners of the south’s most prestigious business awards will be revealed this Friday at a glittering highlight in the business calendar.

Hundreds of business leaders will converge on the Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton, for The South Coast Business Awards which celebrates the best performing companies in the region.

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.

The success stories of companies large and small will be told as they wait to find out who has scooped each of the nine hotly-contested gongs.

An overall south coast business of the year will also be unveiled.

The glitzy black-tie night will be hosted by Southern Daily Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray along with guest speaker Jacqueline Gold, the chief executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox.

Her businesses success has earned a place on Britain’s 100 most influential women list and the 16 th most wealthiest person in Britain thanks to her empire of 144 stores.

There are 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 demonstrated 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.

Ian Murray said: “The awards have grown to become one of the most prestigious events in the business calendar and I am certain that this year’s celebration of excellence will enhance this reputation.”

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