THE best and brightest of the region’s businesses have been honoured for their successes over the past year.
In total, 11 firms walked away winners in The News’ Business Excellence Awards.
The evening was presented by TV personality Fred Dinenage at Portsmouth’s Guildhall last night.
Nigel Stewart, commercial director of BAE Systems Maritime, which sponsored the awards, praised all the firms which made the short list.
He said: ‘We are fortunate in Portsmouth to have a quality daily local newspaper in the form of The News, which recognises the importance of supporting the region’s business community and with over 50,000 businesses across the Solent, there is a lot to celebrate.
‘The success of the Solent area relies on the business community working together with our local authorities and economic partners and as a result of this joint working, there is a huge amount of investment coming into the city, which is helping to drive continued prosperity.’
This year, for the second time, each of the category winners were put forward for the chance to be crowned the Overall Business of the Year.
That honour was given to Gemma Lighting, pictured on the front page, which, the judges felt, deserved the accolade for either winning or coming in the top three in each of the four categories the firm entered.
Brian Johnson, who judged every category on behalf of BAE Systems, said: ‘We just felt that because Gemma had done so well in each of the categories they were far and away the business which we felt ticked every box.
‘The firm is innovative, it is exporting, it is expanding, and all while manufacturing is in decline.’
After picking up the award the firm’s sales director, Mark Major, said: ‘We are ecstatic about picking up this award.
‘It was really unexpected.
‘There were a few of us at the awards tonight, and we’ve had a bit of a giggle, but actually this award is for all the team, to show them how fantastic they are.’
The firm invited shareholders from Dubai to be part of the evening. One of them, Raj Jambu, praised the work the firm had been doing, and said: ‘We are delighted Gemma Lighting has won, because for the four years we have been working with them they have been doing exactly what the market needs and they are special to us.’
The firm’s managing director, Craig Manuel, added: ‘We want to thank our staff, our shareholders for standing by us and our customers. It’s brilliant to be recognised.’
The News’ editor Mark Waldron hosted the event, and said: ‘To pick our winners this year was tough for the judges, and I would like to thank each company who entered for making our job so hard.
‘It is a credit to the quality of entries.’
Professor John Craven, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, though he could not pick it up in person.
He is due to retire from the university this year.