Britain's brightest businesses - Business Works
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Britain's brightest businesses

Mark Stokes, Managing Director, Mid Markets, Lloyds Banking Group From rapidly-expanding SMEs to leading UK brands: the shortlist is announced for the 2013 Growing Business Awards, by Real Business in association with Lloyds Banking Group and the CBI.

"This years shortlist is testament to the talent and determination of British entrepreneurs and it is fantastic to see businesses from such diverse sectors represented at these awards," said Mark Stokes, Managing Director, Mid Markets, Lloyds Banking Group.

"The businesses have demonstrated hard work, dynamism and an ability to respond to changing market needs and we wish them all the best. We are supporting British enterprise and the UK economy and are eager to help more and more businesses achieve their full potential by providing expertise, support and the funding that they need."

Now in their 15th year, the prestigious Growing Business Awards highlight some of the countrys most exciting, innovative and high-growth business models and have previously celebrated leading UK companies such as Innocent, Fever-Tree and LOVEFiLM.

A remarkable group of businesses and entrepreneurs have been shortlisted for the awards, including, Rob and Paul Forkan, founders of leading footwear brand Gandys Flip Flops, for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Rob and Paul tragically lost their parents in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. Determined to overcome the atrocity and turn their unfortunate circumstances into a force for good, the pair established Gandys Flip Flops from their bedroom in Brixton. The brothers founded the business in 2012 with the intention of using any profits made to build a childrens home in India. The business has since grown rapidly with their flip flops being stocked in most major retailers across the country. As a result of their success, the brothers now aim to build at least one childrens home on every continent using their firms profits.

Many talented businesses have been shortlisted for the Company of the Year Mid-Sized Award including ECO Plastics, the largest plastic recycler in the UK.

recycling - 25,000 tonnes of plastic per year

ECO Plastics is running for its role in environmental recycling. Operating the worlds largest processing plant, ECO Plastics produces 80% of the material used to make soft drinks bottles in the UK. The facility also produces 25,000 tonnes of plastic each year with over 70% of the waste collected being reprocessed into food grade plastic products.

Running for Export Champion of the Year is distributer, Sun Mark. Founded in 1995, Sun Mark helps famous UK brands such as Cadbury and McVities export their products, by sea, land or air, usually to inaccessible locations. The company has subsidiaries in Dubai and Nigeria, and exports to over 100 countries.

Also featured on this years shortlist and competing for Young Company of the Year is discount holiday provider, Secret Escapes. Founded in 2011, London-based Secret Escapes offers its three million-plus members cut price deals to luxury travel destinations.

It has seen impressive growth, doubling its membership base, attracting venture capital funding, launching a partnership with the SkyScanner (global travel search site) and launching its own FlightFinder application. With strong domestic growth already under its belt, the company is now looking to expand internationally. It will open offices in Sweden and Germany this year, with plans to expand into the US in the next couple of years.

helping to protect British bees

Running for the Innovator of the Year Award is Plan Bee, a company committed to helping to protect British bees across the country. As well as running a range of initiatives aimed at restoring habitats for bees and training beekeepers, the company allows businesses to hire or 'adopt' bee hives, brand them and keep them on their premises. The hives are visited by an urban farmer who maintains them and collects the honey. The companys innovative approach offers an effective way for businesses to have a positive impact on their local environment.

The list goes on, with entrants in a list of categories, some of which are highlighted below.

William Chase, founder of Tyrrells Crisps, invested a percentage of his profits from the sale of the company into setting up Chase Distillery, the only single-estate distillery in the UK. Chase is one of a growing number of successful food brands demonstrating that despite difficult economic times, people are still willing to part with their cash for quality food and drink and is shortlisted in the Made in Britain Award.

Just Eat (in Innovator of the Year) was one of the first businesses to give local restaurants an online presence via a single portal from which customers could order. The firm became the UK's most visited restaurant and catering website, with a staggering 55% more visits than Dominos. They were also named Brand of the Year at the Tech Track 100 awards in 2012.

Field Candy (in Young Company of the Year) is an exciting design-led brand of tents, aiming to take on the outdoor retail giants head-to-head. Its eye-catching tents carry strong photographic and illustrative images that will stand out in any camp site or at any festival. The young company is already selling products through 28 different countries with the US accounting for almost a quarter of sales. The fabric used is UK manufactured, printed in-house and coated and protected by a UK supplier.

IT distribution business, The Change Organisation (in the Local Hero Award category), operates an apprenticeship scheme in partnership with the local government which seeks to give young people from the area fantastic career opportunities. The company also invests in a local 500 acre organic farm supporting sustainable agricultural practice. The Change Organisation has purchased a new minibus for the Whitstable Sea Cadets, fundraised for a local children's hospice, funded Christmas dinners for the elderly and has supported a new rehabilitation centre. It has also donated over half a million pounds of computer equipment to a school in Tanzania.

export, investment and job creation

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy-Director General, said "As the economy gathers encouraging momentum, the UKs innovative small and medium-sized businesses will continue to play a critical role in getting us back to a sustainable footing, through exports, investment and job creation."

"This year's shortlist is jam-packed with the types of business that have driven this country out of recession and back onto the path to economic growth," said Amy Carroll, Group Editor of Real Business and Real Deals. "From ambitious young entrepreneurs risking everything to pursue their dreams, to export champions driving the UK's growth overseas, and innovative, cutting-edge digital triumphs, the Growing Business Awards 2013 celebrate the very best of British."

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