Laura Tenison, founder of the baby clothing retailer JoJo Maman Bébé, was last night presented with the Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year award at a reception in London.
Ms Tenison, who became the 37th winner of the UK version of the award, started her business in 1993. JoJo Maman Bébé, based in Newport, Gwent, has 27 shops and employs more than 300 people.
"When I consider the remarkable achievements of the former winners and my fellow nominees, it is a real privilege and an honour to win this award," Ms Tenison said. "I am delighted to follow in the footsteps of such an esteemed list of highly talented business people who are an inspiration to woman everywhere."
Previous winners of the prize include the former London 2012 Olympics bid chairman Barbara Cassini and Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of FTSE 100-listed Pearson.
The organisers of the award said they were looking for a businesswoman this year who had demonstrated commitment to corporate and social responsibility. Organisers said Ms Tenison's company had a "deep involvement" with the Nema Foundation, a charity that works to relieve poverty in Mozambique. A spokeswoman for the charity said JoJo Maman Bébé had funded the building of two schools and worked on its financial accounts.
"I feel this accolade acknowledges the time and effort we have put into building a brand based on strict moral and ethical values," added Ms Tenison. "Our policy is to put people and sensible environmental policies above bottom-line profit."
Ms Tenison beat three other finalists: Victoria Stapleton, founder of the fashion retailer Brora, Gill Riley, who set up the construction group GGR-UNIC, and Louise Wymer, a director of The Catering Academy.
The award organisers dismissed the idea that the honour is ill-fated with a number of businesswomen struggling to match previous achievements after winning the Veuve Clicquot.
"We wouldn't comment on that," said a spokeswoman for Veuve Clicquot. "Winning this long-established award isan outstanding achievement, and we take great pride in recognising that achievement."
The chief executive of the Guardian Media Group resigned as a director of Tesco when, two days after winning the award in 2008, the supermarket group sued The Guardian for libel. The Guardian eventually settled the case, publishing a front-page apology in recognition that it incorrectly reported that Tesco was employing tax avoidance schemes.
The 2006 award did little for the former BP executive. Ms Cox stepped down as head of BP's alternative energy unit when it closed its London office last year.
Mirman was honoured in 1988 but soon after collecting the trophy she was forced to step down as head of Sock Shop after publishing poor financial results. The company collapsed two years later.
The 2004 winner and founder of the LK Bennett chain was forced to shelve plans to sell the clothing retailer a year after she won the award.