Ilkley Brewery in fast lane to growth after taking UK title

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The Ilkley Brewery beat competition from 3,100 promising young businesses across the UK to take the top prize in a national competition supported by nearly 500 local newspapers and backed by the Prime Minister.

David Cameron praised the Local Business Accelerators campaign and sent a message of congratulations to the finalists at yesterday’s ceremony at the top of Millbank Tower in central London.

Ilkley Brewery directors Christopher Ives (left) and Stewart Ross with Deborah Meaden at the LBA grand final

Ilkley Brewery directors Christopher Ives (left) and Stewart Ross with Deborah Meaden at the LBA grand final

Business Secretary Vince Cable attended the event and applauded the businesses and the Newspaper Society for its initiative.

Directors at Ilkley Brewery said they were “delighted” with their award and will receive a year of business mentoring from Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.

The three-year-old company will also receive a free advertising campaign from a top London agency.

The judging panel, led by Ms Meaden, highlighted the company’s “great growth story”, success in generating local employment and strong ties to the spa town’s community.

The directors of Ilkley Brewery celebrate

The directors of Ilkley Brewery celebrate

Chris Ives, a director, said: “We are just amazed that we have won.”

Stewart Ross, another director, added: “Through our activities with the community people have taken us to heart. They are just a huge extended part of our workforce.”

Ms Meaden told the Yorkshire Post that she was looking forward to working with the company.

“They know their business better than I do.

“What I think a mentor should do is be able to overlook that business and just ask those slightly more open questions,” she said.

The entrepreneur and investor added: “I have contacts. What mentors can do is call on those contacts.”

Al Young, creative director at ad agency St Luke’s and another judge, said he was inspired by the story of the brewery, which was set up by commercial property professionals in the teeth of the recession.

“It’s a really inspiring story – to come out of the property business and have an amazing thing going on is an inspiration to us all,” he added.

His company has experience of the brewing industry; it has worked with Heineken for the last six years.

Nearly 500 local and regional newspapers took part in the Local Business Accelerators campaign, which launched last October and offered winners a substantial allocation of free advertising plus mentoring from business lead-ers.

Some 3,100 companies entered the awards.

The Yorkshire Post received 56 entries and selected three winners: The Ilkley Brewery, telecoms specialist Liquid Voice and cake maker Proper Maid.

Each received mentoring and three months of free advertising in the YP plus mentoring from Yorkshire business leaders.

John Tordoff, managing director of JCT600 motor group, provided some mentoring in the form of marketing advice to the brewery directors.

The newspaper put forward the brewery into the national final, based on the strength of its brand and quality of product.

It was shortlisted in the final 12 and yesterday was named national winner.

Speaking at the event, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The Ilkley Brewery doubled sales on the back of local newspaper advertising.

“This has been powerful support.”

Raymond Snoddy, the media industry commentator who compered the event, described the Newspaper Society’s initiative to promote stronger links between the UK local newspaper industry and their respective business communities as ground break-ing.

“It’s really proved to be a shot in the arm for local businesses all over the UK,” he said.

He read out a special message from David Cameron, which said: “This excellent initiative shows local papers can support and energise some of the brilliant new businesses in their areas and really help them flourish.”

Mr Snoddy also paid tribute to veteran newspaper publisher Sir Ray Tindle for making a donation to the Newspaper Society to help pay for the programme.

Sir Ray is a shareholder in Johnston Press, parent company of the Yorkshire Post.

Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said the UK’s local newspapers have 33 million print readers a week while their websites have 42m visitors a month.

“Online audiences have grown by well over double the rate of Facebook,” she added.

The Newspaper Society plans to repeat the exercise, launching later this year.

See the Yorkshire Post for further details.

Ms Meaden, the national ambassador for the LBA campaign, said start-up businesses “are going to spearhead our reco- very”.

The judging panel included The Mail on Sunday’s business editor, the CEO of the Business Growth Fund, the founder of Frank PR and the marketing director of the Newspaper Society.