More than 120 of the borough's leading business people put their competitive skills to the test at the sparkling launch of the Croydon's biggest awards. (April 25).
The Croydon Business Excellence Awards 2017 in association with London Gatwick Airport opened for entries with an evening of fun, games and prosecco at The View, the Whitgift Centre's spectacular 9th floor venue.
The prestigious awards programme has been given a major makeover for 2017. The 14 business award categories now include a Cultural Impact Award sponsored by Rise Gallery, a Women in Business Award sponsored by Superdrug, and a Best Shop Local Business Award sponsored by Lark Insurance, which will celebrate hyper-local companies across Croydon's main districts.
These exciting new features, aimed at helping Croydon – the UK's fastest growing economy - recognise the successes and achievements of its booming business community, were welcomed by Deputy Mayor, Councillor Toni Letts (pictured above, centre), who will become Mayor for a second time on May 22.
"I wonder how many other London boroughs could get this number of businesses in one room, particularly larger businesses like Gatwick - it says a lot about Croydon's success and makes me very proud," said Cllr Letts. "I am really excited about the Women In Business Award – just over 9 per cent of women in business ever reach the top, so I think we have to help get more women through that glass ceiling. I will be the first woman to serve as Mayor of Croydon more than once, so I am hoping to encourage others."
Croydon-based Superdrug are sponsoring the award after launching their own internal network to encourage women to rise through their company ranks. Kendra Moffat, Head of Talent at Superdrug, said: It's a great opportunity and a really great award. We are looking forward to meeting whoever ends up on that shortlist."
The winners will be announced, along with the overall Business of the Year, at a glittering black-tie Gala Dinner and Charity Ball in the ultra-luxurious Grand Sapphire on Thursday, October 5.
Alison Addy, Head of Community Engagement at Gatwick said the airport was delighted to be headline sponsor for a second year: "We can really see the Awards are growing and going from strength to strength. Gatwick is enjoying its own success having just celebrated handling 44 million passengers in the last 12 months. As Gatwick also plays an important role in the local and regional economy we want to support the growth and success of businesses in Croydon as well."
Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, director of the innovative Rise Gallery and a former Croydon Business of the Year winner, surprised the launch audience by announcing he would give a bonus of £3,000 to the winner of the new cultural Impact Award to use in a new project.
"Culture is such a vital part of building a community's unique identity – it's what ties us all together and has a real job of changing perceptions of Croydon," he told the launch audience. "There are lots of amazing people doing some fantastic work in culture and the arts in Croydon and they deserve to be recognised."
Another innovative element for this year is the appointment of Business Awards Ambassadors, who will advise and encourage businesses throughout the awards entry process.
The awards are free to enter, with easy-to-follow online registration. The two-stage judging process is robust and impartial, with shortlisted companies invited to a coaching workshop prior to the final Judging Day in May.
Katharine Glass, managing director of organisers White Label, thanked this year's sponsors, some of whom are pictured above: London Borough of Croydon, Allianz Global Assistance, Lark Insurance, Rise Gallery, Wing Yip, Chequers Cleaning Contract Services, Superdrug, Mobile Bar Hire, Croydon Chamber, Croydon Advertiser, Handelsbanken and Grand Sapphire. "We would not be able to hold these awards without their support," said Katharine.
The full list of categories are:Business of the YearApprentice Employer of the YearBest Business for Customer ServiceBest Business for Food and HospitalityBest Business for Marketing and Social MediaBest Business for Employee Training and DevelopmentBest Charity or Social EnterpriseBest SME BusinessBest Start Up BusinessCommitment to the CommunityCultural Impact AwardEntrepreneur of the YearBest Shop Local BusinessTech Innovation of the YearWomen in Business
To find out more or register to enter the awards visit. www.croydonawards.co.uk