THEY came dressed to the nines to celebrate Hampshire’s high-performing businesses.

Large and small companies from across the region united for a glitzy bash at the Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton to mark the South Coast Business Awards 2013.

The event – now in its third year – was organised by the Daily Echo in association with Trethowans Solicitors and in partnership with Business Solent and Destination Southampton.

Nine prizes were up for grabs in total, including the prestigious Trethowans Business of the Year Award.

Categories included Excellence Through Innovation, Small Business of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Commitment to Training and Education, Growth Business of the Year and Best Use of Technology.

The top award went to Segensworth-based Saab Seaeye, which was also the proud recipient of the Trethowans Excellence Through Innovation Award.

Former Conservative MP turned television personality Michael Portillo was the guest speaker for the evening and captivated the audience with his political anecdotes and whimsical tales.

He hosted the awards alongside Southern Daily Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Murray said: “There was definitely a strong sense of celebration and in particular that the region is beginning to pull through from the recent financial doldrums.

“Tonight was about success and being positive about future prosperity which means jobs and security for everyone who lives and works here. I have spoken with lots of the business community represented here and they all have strong stories to tell of renewed confidence.”

Santander Corporate Banking was official judging partner alongside sponsors Taylor Made Computer Solutions, RSM Tenon, British American Tobacco, and Smith & Williams.

The Winners are:

• Taylor Made Computers Best Use of Technology Award: Dental Confidence n Business Solent Champion of the Year Award: Southampton Hoteliers Association

• RSM Tenon Customer Services Award: Churchill Retirement Living

• British American Tobacco Commitment to Training and Education Award: Powertechnique Ltd

• Trethowans Excellence Through Innovation Award: Saab Seaeye Ltd

• Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year: Clearvision

Southampton City Council Award for Southampton Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Tomasz Dyl of Gottabe!

• Smith & Williamson Growth Business of the Year Award: Benham Manufacturing

• Trethowans Business of the Year Award: Saab Seaeye