Winning start for the next business generation

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The Yorkshire Post today reveals the winners of the Local Business Accelerators campaign to find the region’s most promising young companies.

They are The Ilkley Brewery, telecoms specialist Liquid Voice and food manufacturer Proper Maid. Each wins a substantial amount of free advertising and mentoring from top business people.

Prime Minister David Cameron offered his congratulations to the winning businesses in the campaign, which is being supported by nearly 500 newspapers across the UK to help boost local and regional economies.

Mr Cameron said: “It’s brilliant that so many promising young companies, from such a wide range of sectors, are benefiting from this excellent initiative.

“Entrepreneurship, creativity and ambition are essential for our economic recovery and through Local Business Accelerators, newspapers such as the Yorkshire Post are supporting some great new British businesses to grow, and helping to boost their local economy.

“I wish the newspapers, businesses and their mentors every success over the coming months.”

The Yorkshire Post received 52 entries from sectors including manufacturing, media and creative services and logistics.

The judging panel of Paul Ayre, the managing partner of Leeds and Bradford-based law firm Gordons LLP, Kevin Hollinrake, the managing director of Hunters Property Group, the York-based estate agents, John Tordoff, managing director of JCT600, the Bradford-based motor group, and our Business Editor studied and debated the entries.

The panel then invited representatives from six companies to deliver presentations about their businesses and explain why they should win.

Paul Ayre, of Gordons, will mentor Huddersfield-based Proper Maid, which makes a range of cakes with flavours such as Dandelion and Burdock in tribute to local drinks maker Ben Shaws. It was founded in 2008 and has a turnover of £140,000 with 12 employees.

Mr Ayre said: “The story behind Proper Maid is one which should inspire anyone thinking of launching a new business.

“Working initially from her kitchen at home, Allison Whitmarsh has created a thriving company. The product is excellent with lots of scope for the range to be extended. She has made significant investment in purpose-built premises to provide capacity to meet the increasing demand.

“She has also shown some real innovation in the flexible working arrangements she operates with staff. More than anything however, Allison’s passion for the business comes through in everything they do. For all of these reasons Proper Maid deserves to be a winner in this campaign.”

Kevin Hollinrake will mentor Liquid Voice, which is based in Leeds and provides call monitoring, quality assurance and workforce productivity services and has a turnover of £1.1m.

Mr Hollinrake said: “Liquid Voice is a dynamic business which has shown huge growth since its inception in 2009 – primarily due to the expertise and ambition of the management team.

“The company now employs 14 people and has already expanded internationally. The call recording and reporting sector is likely to surge over the next few years, due to greater regulation and the need to improve business productivity, and this business has the potential to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“They are very deserved winners of the contest and I am delighted to be working with them.”

John Tordoff, of JCT600, will mentor The Ilkley Brewery, which launched in 2009 and has a turnover of £750,000.

It makes beers including Mary Jane, Darwin’s Tipple and Black Summit.

Mr Tordoff said: “In just three years The Ilkley Brewery has really established itself by displaying true Yorkshire grit and an entrepreneurial spirit second to none.

“The Ilkley Brewery operates a simple business model and has already established a strong brand by working closely with its key customers.

“With aspirations of growth across the UK and overseas this really is a business that will benefit from its association with the Local Business Accelerators programme.”

The three companies will now receive free advertising in the Yorkshire Post and mentoring from the business leaders. They will also have the opportunity to attend a free workshop with the national Business Growth Fund.

One winner will be chosen from across the UK to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden, the Dragons’ Den investor.

• More than 3,000 companies entered the Local Business Accelerators campaign, which is being supported by nearly 500 newspapers across the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron, the Confederation of British Industry and the Bank of England are among those who have backed the initiative.

Industry body the Newspaper Society devised the campaign to deliver “a shot in the arm” to British business by identifying young businesses with growth potential and then promoting them through newspapers.

Deborah Meaden, the entrepreneur made famous on TV’s Dragons’ Den, is the national ambassador for the campaign.