Belfast Telegraph

Roll up, roll up for the greatest show in town

By Clare Weir

Despite the economic downturn, a lot of companies are still thriving and the Belfast Telegraph will recognise their achievements at the 2012 Northern Ireland Business Awards

It's been another challenging year in the business world and more than ever, the emphasis has been placed on the private sector, indigenous businesses, exporters and small and medium-sized enterprises to help drive forward the flagging economy.

And for companies leading the way and making a difference in these straitened times, they can receive the recognition they deserve in 2012's Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

Taking place on Tuesday, April 24, at the Ramada Hotel in Shaw's Bridge, there will be 12 categories this year including the re-introduction of the Corporate Social Responsibility category, to recognise the positive impact businesses are making in the community amid tough times.

bmi British Midland is once again continuing as the lead partner with the newspaper in supporting the awards.

Launching the awards, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the event provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of our businesses, large and small.

"Despite the current challenges, many companies are continuing to invest in the future of their businesses and to compete and succeed in international markets," she said. "We already have a major programme of events lined up to celebrate Northern Ireland achievements in 2012, and I would encourage all businesses to consider entering the Awards and to have the chance to share in that success."

Brenda Morgan, bmi sales manager for Ireland, said that she is sure that last year's best-ever entry level will be topped in 2012.

"The Business Awards are one of the longest established and most respected of all the business accolades in Northern Ireland, with last year generating the highest ever level of entries from the province's business community," she said.

"This year I am confident that the record will again be broken!

"In Northern Ireland as elsewhere, many businesses have operated under the most testing of market conditions.

"However, the entrepreneurial approach, skill base, determination and often-sheer resilience of our business community have combined to produce outstanding performances, many of which will be recognised at this year's 2012 Business Awards.

"We continue with business as usual at bmi providing a superb mainline service from Belfast to London Heathrow and linking businesses here to businesses around the globe. Our destinations for winter 2011/2012 and our summer 2012 network remain as planned.

"With up to six rotations a day from the George Best Belfast City Airport to London Heathrow it is one of our key routes - a vital artery for the flow of business and commerce that is the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy. The awards provide an excellent platform to promote our business community and the competitive strength which exists within the marketplace."

One of the firms recognised for excellence in 2011's Business Awards was Craigavon-based pharmaceutical company Almac, which picked up the Business of the Year accolade.

Alan Armstrong, chief executive of the Almac Group, said that winning the title was a fantastic endorsement of the firm's contribution to the Northern Ireland economy.

"We were thrilled that the award recognised our staff's efforts in transforming a Northern Ireland business to a company of global stature in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors," he said.

"It's so important that Northern Ireland's leading newspaper continues to celebrate the achievements of companies which are succeeding despite such a competitive and challenging global economic environment."

Belfast Telegraph editor Mike Gilson said that against a backdrop of bad news, the awards can highlight those businesses which are battling back and doing well.

"In these incredibly difficult times it is really important that we keep reminding ourselves that there are businesses out there fighting the fight and still managing to win," he said.

"Every year the degree of innovation, belief and sheer hard work that those nominated put into their businesses never ceases to amaze me.

"These awards give us a chance to shut the door on doom and gloom for a few short hours, have a good time and simply celebrate excellence."

John Simpson, well known economist and chairman of the judging panel, added that the awards offer a platform for firms who might otherwise not be celebrated.

"The Business Awards allow businesses in Northern Ireland to showcase their successes in trading and developing competitive responses against their business rivals, whether local or international," he said.

Awards they hope to get their hands on...

1. Excellence in Marketing Sponsored by Progressive Building Society

2. Excellence in Exporting Sponsored by Northern Bank

3. Excellence in the Development of Management and Leadership Sponsored by Investors in People

4. Excellence in Innovation Sponsored by Invest NI

5. Outstanding Service to Business

6. Outstanding Business Team of the Year Sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland

7. Young Businessperson of the Year Sponsored by Bibby Financial

8. Excellence in Technology Sponsored by Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors

9. Best Small/ Medium Business Sponsored by YELL

10. Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Sponsored by Moy Park Non-entry categories

11. Businessperson of the Year Sponsored by bmi

12. Outstanding Business of the Year Sponsored by bmi

... And here's the people they will have to impress if they are to scoop one of the top prizes

  • John Heaslip Chief executive of Business in the Community
  • Kate Barker CBE Chairwoman of the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group and independent economist
  • Alastair Hamilton Chief executive, Invest Northern Ireland
  • Professor Rodney McAdam Head of department of marketing, entrepreneurship and strategy, University of Ulster
  • Brenda Morgan Sales manager Ireland, of airline bmi
  • Katy Best Commercial and marketing director, Belfast City Airport
  • Joanne Stuart Non-executive director of the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast

'It's business as usual'

"In the annual bmi calendar of Northern Ireland events, there is quite simply nothing to equal the impact of the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards - which goes a long way to explaining our 10 year association," said Wolfgang Prock Schauer, the chief executive at bmi, British Midland International.

Thanking Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, for officially launching the search to find Northern Ireland's best performing, most innovative and noteworthy companies and individuals of 2012, he said: "The minister's presence reinforces the importance of the awards in providing a platform for the many businesses within Northern Ireland and brings a welcome spotlight to their shared sense of enterprise.

"Over the years these Business Awards have become acknowledged as setting a highly regarded standard of achievement within the local business community, creating for the winners important platforms to support the development of products and services in regional, national and international marketplaces.

"Mike Gilson, editor, and his team at the Belfast Telegraph are to be congratulated on providing an event that allows the business community a voice to say, 'Northern Ireland is in business, not just business as usual, but business that is increasingly competitive and competing on a world stage'.

"The draft new economic strategy published by the Executive under the name of Minister Arlene Foster, emphasises the important roles of international trade and international service supply for Northern Ireland businesses.

"For our part, we are happy that bmi offers Northern Ireland exceptional international travel connections that support the principles of that new strategy.

"For us, it is very much 'business as usual' as we continue to provide the Northern Ireland traveller with up to six rotations a day from George Best Belfast City Airport to London Heathrow.

"Just as Northern Ireland business competes on a world-wide basis, so bmi serves world-wide destinations.

"This offers a strong complementary relationship which has grown and will endure."