Twenty-one winning businesses took to the stage at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool to collect Red Rose Awards trophies before a record audience of 1,200.
The biggest winner on the night was Process Instruments of Burnley - the only company to take home two awards, triumphing in both the Innovation and Export categories.
Process Instruments designs and supplies devices that analyse water quality and control the dosing of chemicals. Their innovative firmware, which features self-interrogating diagnostics, cloud-stored data and remote access, proved especially useful to customers - from the Outer Hebrides to rural USA - whose travel was restricted by Covid-19 laws.
The pandemic was a key theme for many of the winners of this year’s Red Rose Awards, which had been postponed from its usual date in March.
Other winners included Preston-based pet treats firm T Forrest, which capitalised on the large increase in pet ownership over the last 18 months, Blackpool-based Barcadia Media, which took its in-person events programme online within weeks of the first lockdown, and Community & Business Partners and Blackburn Youth Zone, which both played vital roles in supporting their communities through the toughest months of the pandemic.
A special award was granted to the Eric Wright property group of Bamber Bridge, which in total employs more than 650 people across its various divisions.
The company acted quickly to convert various premises into Covid-19 intensive care wards and recovery facilities. It has sponsored the vocational training of 4,200 Preston College students since 2005, and as a charitable trust, 100 per cent of profits made are reinvested in the company or donated to charities.
These stories were told to the largest-ever audience of 1,200, gathered in the magnificent Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The evening also featured fine food, sourced from Lancashire suppliers, and thrilling Lancashire-based musicians and entertainers.
The audience also donated generously to the Community Foundation for Lancashire’s Red Rose Responding Fund which is helping people and organisations across the county who have suffered from the effects of the pandemic.
Richard Slater, publisher of Lancashire Business View and founder of the Red Rose Awards, said: “These awards have been a long time coming - 20 months since the last awards ceremony - and so much has changed in that time.
“Every business represented in the room was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in one way or another, but as those up on stage proved, creativity, ingenuity and resilience can turn even the most difficult circumstances into rich opportunities.
“It was fantastic to see so many people together, celebrating the best the county has to offer. Congratulations to all the winners, who thoroughly deserve their honours.”
Mike Riding, managing director of double-winning Process Instruments, said: “It has been a very good night. To have this recognition of what the team has done is really important to us.”
He added: “We now sell in more than 60 countries, and we’ve just got our first order in Japan.”
Jeremy Hartley, group managing director of Eric Wright, winners of the special award on the night, said: “It is such an honour to get this recognition. We are firmly rooted in this part of the world and we believe our business is part of the community.
“You are only as good as the people who work for you. The last two years have tested everyone to the limit, but our people have really pulled together. This award is for our staff and everyone who has worked so hard over the last few years.”
Full list of winners with comments from judging panels:
Built Environment Award sponsored by Harrison Drury Solicitors
Winner: Fox Group, Blackpool
Judges said: “Fox Group demonstrated impressive growth and commitment to growth during the pandemic.
Judges were impressed by the business working so closely with offenders and ex-offenders and the fact that 90% of staff are directly employed by the business in an industry that traditionally relies on a high proportion of agency staff. Fox Group are the unsung heroes of the Built Environment!.”
Corporate Social Responsibility Award sponsored by Sundown Solutions
Winner: Community and Business Partners, Blackburn
Judges said: “Community Business partners live and breathe CSR through their own day-to-day activities and through their support of others. The CSR commitment is there throughout”
Customer Service Award sponsored by Seriun
Winner: CUBE HR, Burnley
Judges said: “Cube HR adapted their business and kept themselves in the sights of clients and prospects through the lockdowns by delivering content and advice remotely.
There’s a clear through-line of passion and smart processes to back up their customer service offering.”
Employer of the Year Award sponsored by Four Recruitment
Winner: Ascentis, Lancaster
Judges said: “Ascentis has a demonstrable focus on its staff with a comprehensive approach to employee engagement resulting in 100% feedback from their people recommending Ascentis as a great place to work.”
Export Award sponsored by PM+M
Winner: Process Instruments, Burnley
Judges said: “The export focus and professionalism of Process Instruments, coupled with their Lancashire product design, development and production, allowed them to triumph.
Their great customer base across the world and innovative export management were particularly impressive.”
Family Business Award sponsored by Napthens Solicitors
Winner: T. Forrest, Preston
Judges said: “T Forrest have achieved much, made their ambitions clear, and excelled at a difficult time. The business responded very strongly to the pandemic.
The judges referenced particular progression across creative and innovative elements of the business. T Forrest are very much rooted in Lancashire with a strong family thread running through everything they do.”
Go Green Award sponsored by Mattioli Woods
Winner: Silverwoods Waste Management
Judges said: "A passionate, well-informed, ambitious and expert managing director is taking this business and its clients on a net-zero journey.
Lots of excellent schemes and great work on their own carbon footprint. Excellent future plans make this an exciting player."
Health and Wellbeing Business Award sponsored by Business Health Matters
Winner: YOLO Wellbeing, Preston
Judges said: "YOLO offer something different and scalable which is based on their experience and an ambitious five year growth plan.
The offer of on-site massage to improve mental and physical health was seen as innovative which, together with evidence-based impact and compelling experience of strong business engagement during the pandemic, made them worthy winners.”
Innovation in Business Award sponsored by University of Central Lancashire
Winner: Process Instruments, Burnley
Judges said: “Process Instruments describe their product as “Innovation2” or, in other words, innovation that allows for innovation.
The world of systems integration has been challenged by the introduction of their CRIUS product allows for sectional upgrades of individual chips rather than whole product replacement thereby reducing costs for customers. They are flying the flag for Lancashire in the UK and internationally.”
Large Business Award sponsored by Forbes Solicitors
Winner: Sapphire Utility Solutions, Preston
Judges said: “This privately owned business has doubled sustainable turnover in the last 12 months, securing £400m recurring revenue. Meanwhile, they have increased employees five-fold, focusing on their development with their own training academy. With £5m invested in plant, a new head office and significant contributions to community projects, diversification has been a key driver to success. An incredible business.”
Made in Lancashire Award sponsored by Barclays
Winner: Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, Preston
Judges said: “Having made investments in new product development and technology, Butlers has been leading the 'great cheese awakening', winning new business with national supermarket chains and developing a direct to consumer offering.
They are Lancashire ambassadors for own product range and other Butlers larder suppliers and are the world’s only cheesemaker to boast 100% recyclable packaging which they developed themselves. Butlers is a great example of Lancashire manufacturing innovation and excellence.”
Marketing Agency Award sponsored by Peter Scott Printers
Winner: Red-Fern Media, Burnley
Judges said: "Passion, humility, focus and drive sum up Red-Fern's approach to business.
Clients were well-supported through the pandemic, with new technologies and innovations employed to solve their challenges. They also, commendably, invest in their local community. The digital future looks bright!"
Medium Business Award sponsored by Azets
Winner: Connect 2 Cleanrooms, Lancaster
Judges said: “An inspirational story of growth underpinned by solid business thinking and clear strategies. Employee-focused, Connect 2 Cleanrooms demonstrate all the facets of a great and growing Lancashire business.”
New Business Award sponsored by Matrix247
Winner: Carnforth Pharmacy, Carnforth
Judges said: “Taking on a new pharmacy in a deprived area with fully established branded competition on the doorstep and winning NHS business alongside transforming the retail provision was insightful and impressive.
The care they give to ensure the community they serve is accommodated at all levels and is heart-warming. The passion for the community oozes from this business in which care comes before profit.”
Not-for-profit Business Award sponsored by United Utilities
Winner: Blackburn Youth Zone, Blackburn
Judges said: “A great motto: 'Whatever it takes' was so appropriate for the team who ensure that no one is left side-lined in their work.
The commitment and sense of purpose was overwhelming, and the examples used of their beneficiaries really helped to state their case and show their purpose in the community.”
Professional Services Award, Eventus Recruitment Group
Winner: Spencer Hayes Group, Rawtenstall
Judges said: “Putting back comes naturally to this business and is at the heart of what they do.
They have a fun and quirky approach to their people and business and, while professional, Spencer Hayes looks a great place to work!
They have innovative approaches to servicing customers and offering risk management and business continuity services – they are not the run-of-the-mill insurers.”
Resilience Award sponsored by Cube Thinking
Winner: The Fun Experts, Preston
Judges said: “An amazing story. The Fun Experts kept smiling and fought back from the brink, showing amazing innovation and a "never give up" mentality.
The amazing passion of the business shone through, as did sound thinking: they sought advice and support and acted on it well”
Retail Award sponsored by SparesVault by Northern Industrial
Winner: Luxus Design, Preston
Judges said: "We felt this business has a tremendous digital strategy for growth and have built a brilliant online business.
The leadership team have shown the potential that can be generated through creating a working online ecommerce model.
They have a proven record of accomplishment for sales and profit as well as a brilliant plan for future growth."
Scale-up Award sponsored by Two Zero
Winner: Sundown Solutions, Accrington
Judges said: "Sundown Solutions is an excellent example of a business scaling up responsibly and robustly.
Very well rounded in all aspects of business, they are innovative, dynamic and ambitious.."
Small Business Award sponsored by Rowan Executive Search
Winner: Barcadia Media, Blackpool
Judges said: “With impressive financials and an appetite to improve both their industry and their local community, a diverse business model has returned real growth and increasing profits through a difficult and challenging time.
A true Lancashire business that has shown a Red Rose tenacity to take their services to a national market.”
Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Business Award sponsored by Porsche Centre Bolton
Winner: Thornton Hall Country Park, Thornton-in-Craven
Judges said: "A passionate and innovative business that has created attractions and a wide range of experiences for all that visit.
Each member of the team at Thornton Hall Country Park contributes to the success and high reputation that has attracted so many positive reviews and national press attention. An absolute jewel in the Lancashire tourism crown!"
Lancashire Business View Award
Winner: Eric Wright Group, Preston
Judges said: “Eric Wright Group is an incredible business with an amazing ethos.
The integrity, work ethic and community feel is second to none.
It is a force to be reckoned with!”
The headline sponsors for Red Rose Awards 2021 are Forbes Solicitors and Barclays.
The awards are also sponsored by Axon Moore, Azets UK, Begbies Traynor, Bigtank, Business Health Matters, Campbell & Rowley, Cube Thinking, Eventus Recruitment Group, Ewood Experience, Four Recruitment, Harrison Drury Solicitors, Marketing Lancashire, Matrix247, Mattioli Woods, Napthens Solicitors, Pendle Engineering, Peter Scott Printers, Pink Link, PM+M, Porsche Centre Bolton, Rowan Executive, Sales Geek, Seriun, SparesVault™ by Northern Industrial, Sundown Solutions, The Fun Experts, Two Zero, United Utilities and The University of Central Lancashire. The charity partner is Community Foundation for Lancashire.