Kingston's premier business awards is calling for entries after a major launch event at one of the Royal Borough's leading international visitor attractions.
The fifth annual Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2017 kicked off in style with an inspirational breakfast at Chessington World of Adventures, the famous wildlife zoo and theme park.
And there was a lot to go wild about, as founding partners Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Council and Kingston First revealed that the Royal Borough is one of the best places in the UK to do business.
Research on behalf of Kingston Council to develop the new Economic Growth and Development Strategy which will assess how Kingston Council and its partners can support local businesses and identify opportunities for growth, has found that 1,800 new businesses were set up in the borough between 2010 and 2016. This brings the total number of companies operating in the borough to over 8,000 – an "impressive" 46 firms for every 1,000 people living in Kingston.
"As a council we recognise that the business community is crucial to the economic wellbeing, vibrancy and future prosperity of the borough," said Kingston Council's Director of Place, Roy Thompson as he welcomed the role the awards play in showcasing Kingston businesses.
"One of the highlights of the Economic Growth and Development Strategy research we are undertaking is that Kingston is a great place to start and grow your business - we are high in the national rankings for entrepreneurship."
Kingston's Deputy Mayor, Councillor Rowena Bass urged all local businesses to enter the 2017 awards, which feature 11 business categories, as well as the overall Kingston Business of the Year. She also thanked all the sponsors who made the awards possible.
"These awards bring together and champion all that's best of the borough's businesses by celebrating all your hard work achievements and successes," said Cllr Bass. "They really help to showcase that Kingston has lots of talent and entrepreneurship and encourage the new starters and fledgling businesses."
Kingston Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Jerry Irving announced that this year's glittering Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on 12th October, will be held at Ravens Ait, a luxury two acre island venue on the River Thames at Kingston
"The Kingston Business Excellence Awards celebrate what is truly excellent about business in the borough and are a fantastic way of doing this – they really do demonstrate enterprise and entrepreneurship right across the business spectrum," said Mr Irving. "So we have pulled out all the stops to bring you a fantastic awards process and venue for the awards ceremony this year."
Kirsten Henly, Chief Executive Officer of Kingston First, the Business Improvement District for Kingston upon Thames town centre, commented: "We are proud to have supported the Kingston Business Awards since its launch four years ago, and this year we will once again be sponsoring the Independent Retailer of the Year category. Previous winners in this category come from a range of specialisms and are awarded for their excellence in customer service, business performance and plans for business growth. Kingston's town centre is home to over 150 diverse independent retailers who form part of the excellent retail offering we have that continues to drive visitors to the area and highlight Kingston as one of the UK's leading town-centres."
Organised in partnership with Kingston Council, Kingston Chamber of Commerce and Kingston First, the award categories are sponsored by Kingston University, McDonalds, Bentalls, CNM Estates, Kingston College, Antoinette Hotels, Exchange@Kingston and Natwest, and supported by Tax Assist.
Following a rigorous and impartial judging and shortlisting process, the winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The premier award, The Kingston Business of the Year, will be chosen from all the shortlisted companies.
The winners of 2016 Marketing & Social Media category, Emma and Steve Levy of the Figment Agency said their company has grown and won more business since picking up their award.
They believe entering had four clear benefits for their firm. Apart from giving them a valuable overview of how they are doing as a company, being shortlisted had given Figment a lot of free marketing and publicity, a huge morale boost for staff, and crucially, increased credibility.
"It was an absolute honour to win the award for marketing and social media last year," said Steve. "It's really helped us to gain gravitas and credibility with prospective clients. So if you are considering entering, I would highly recommend it."
For more information about the awards or to register to enter visit: www.kingstonawards.co.uk
The 2017 Kingston Business Excellence Awards categories are: Apprentice Employer of the Year Best Business for Customer Service Best Business for Food, Leisure & Hospitality Best Business for Marketing & Social Media Best Business for Staff Training & Development Best Charity or Social Enterprise Best SME Business Best Start Up Business Commitment to the Community Entrepreneur of the Year Independent Retailer of the Year Business of the Year