BUSINESS AWARDS: Our showcase of success will be best ever
The Leicester Mercury has taken over the running of Leicestershire's business awards, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, writes Business Editor Ian Griffin.
To mark this milestone, we have made this annual showcase of county business success bigger than ever, increasing the number of categories from seven to 12.
When we found out we were taking over the awards, everyone at the Leicester Mercury was delighted.
Having attended the event for the past decade, I was excited the Mercury was to run it and, of course, I knew we could do it better.
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And with the help of our partners Champions (UK), and our sponsors, I think we have.
The gala dinner will be held on Thursday, when the winners will be announced, and it promises to be an amazing evening.
Keynote speaker on the night will be Business Secretary Vince Cable and there will be also entertainment from magician and mind-reader Graham Jolley.
Congratulations to the 30 businesses who have made it through as finalists. In a lot of ways, they are already winners, having beaten about 100 other businesses.
As you will see in the following pages, there are three finalists in each of the 12 categories, with some companies and organisations finalists in more than one category.
We estimate finalists of these awards benefit from many thousands of pounds of PR and marketing via coverage in our newspaper and website, thisisleicestershire.co.uk.
It has also been estimated that winning one of the categories could be worth several hundreds of thousands of pounds in PR and marketing during the life of a business.
Some well-known businesses have won these awards over the years. Others were not so well-known at the time and used it as a platform to grow their national and even international profile.
And, of course, Leicestershire has been the breeding ground for some of today's top national and international businesses.
There's fashion chain Next, Triumph Motorcycles and Caterpillar, which, people may or may not know, launched its first factory outside the US in Coalville in 1950, and now has a world-class production plant in Desford.
The city and county are great places to start a business.
Those are the words of two of our area's greatest-ever business people: David Wilson, founder of David Wilson Homes, and Bill Adderley, who began homeware business Dunelm on a Leicester market stall in 1979 – a business which is now worth more than £1.5 billion.
These great captains of industry are exceptional examples, you may say. But who knows, among the finalists may be the next David Wilson or Bill Adderley.
Those who don't win at the showpiece event this week at Leicester's De Montfort Hall, should not feel too down.
The work they have done for their entry and publicity they have created about themselves will not have been wasted.
Many of the finalists have made regular appearances in the Mercury, but some have not. Lots of companies hate putting their head above the parapet, but surely a big part of being a successful business is about generating positive publicity, particularly in these tough times.
So good luck to all those who will be vying for an award on Thursday.
Of course, these awards would not be happening if it was not for our headline sponsors De Montfort University, Freeth Cartwright and RSM Tenon and our category sponsors. So thank you to them.