Cameron praise as regional accelerator winners chosen

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THE Prime Minister has congratulated the regional winners of the Local Business Accelerators competition to find Britain’s promising young companies with the most growth potential.

David Cameron said last year’s overall winner Ilkley Brewery, which was backed by the Yorkshire Post, “has gone from strength to strength, growing its sales by 140 per cent”.

He said: “I hope this year’s winners will go on to enjoy similar success.”

More than 500 newspapers across Britain are supporting the Newspaper Society’s campaign to give a boost to young businesses and help invigorate local communities.

The Yorkshire Post’s judging panel has selected three winners from 33 entries from companies across the region.

They are energy-saving specialist Compliance 365 of Wakefield, logistics training provider Viamaster of Morley and online retailer Approved Food of Sheffield.

They will receive mentoring from senior business leaders and free advertising in the Yorkshire Post and one will be chosen to enter the national final, which was won last year by Ilkley Brewery.

The Mary Jane maker beat competition from 3,100 rivals to win mentoring from campaign ambassador Deborah Meaden, the entrepreneur and star of Dragons’ Den.

Ms Meaden said last year’s launch campaign created hundreds of business success stories across the UK.

“I am confident we will see hundreds more this year,” she added. “We need to do everything we can to support small business owners and entrepreneurs and Local Business Accelerators is helping to do just that.”

Approved Food started out at a market stall. It has moved online and sells short-dated grocery goods like tins of soup, rice and pasta crisps and generates annual sales of £2m. It buys in large quantities and passes on savings to customers.

It was founded in September 2009 and has more than 20 staff.

Roger Marsh, senior partner of accountancy firm PwC in Leeds, will mentor the company.

He said: “There is one thing that has remained constant throughout the tough economic landscape and that is the relentless drive and ambition shown time and time again from entrepreneurs across the region.

“Approved Food demonstrates these attributes in spades and I look forward to working with the senior management team towards achievement of their significant growth aspiration during 2013.

“I encourage even more companies like Approved Foods to enter the Local Business Accelerators competition next year – it is these stories that make me feel proud to be part of the Yorkshire business community and give us all cause to be optimistic about the region’s economic future.”

Viamaster provides services including commercial vehicle training as well as instruction in health and safety, compliance and first aid for public and private sector clients.

John Hooper, executive director at Yorkshire Bank’s parent company National Australia Group Europe, will mentor the business, which was founded in April 2009 and has five staff.

He said: “Viamaster is a young business that’s done well in tough times.

“Their ability to grow; securing key contracts with major organisations in our region, demonstrates the quality of service they provide and the core strength within the management team.

“The provision of training for the unemployed is something I believe is vitally important to helping rebuild the economy, and Viamaster’s work with Barnsley College is a great example of this.

“I look forward to working with them as they look to take the next steps in their development.”

Compliance 365 has developed cloud-based energy audit and certification services aimed at helping businesses and organisations save money on energy bills and reducing carbon. It was founded in October 2010 and has 20 staff.

Paul Ayre, managing partner of Leeds and Bradford-based law firm Gordons, will mentor the company. He said: “I’m really looking forward to mentoring Compliance 365. The company has progressed from foundation to employing 20 full-time staff in less than two-and-a-half years, by investing in innovative ideas.

“Compliance 365 symbolises the value of the Local Business Accelerators scheme, in encouraging exactly the type of small but growing enterprise that will be instrumental in leading economic recovery.”

bernard.ginns@ypn.co.uk