Southampton: Solent Business Awards honour best of the best

The 2019 Solent Business Awards celebrated the outstanding achievements of the region’s highest achieving and most dynamic companies.

More than 350 guests attended the gala evening at Southampton’s Hilton at Ageas Bowl, hosted by BBC South Today presenter Sally Taylor. Guest speaker Conrad Humphreys shared some of his experiences as a triple round-the-world sailor enduring some of the planet’s most challenging conditions.

Peter Laurie, head of client relations at awards organiser The Business Magazine, said: “We received a record entry and our finalists represent the cream of companies headquartered in this vibrant Solent and south coast region.”

The awards are sponsored by KPMG, NatWest, BDB Pitmans, James Cowper Kreston, Taylor Made Computer Solutions – a Peach Technologies company, RoyaleLife, Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, Oberon Solutions and media partner Lee Peck Media.


Innovation of the Year – sponsored by Taylor Made Computer Solutions


Beyond Encryption



Serious Sport Group



Judges’ comments:

Our winner is passionate about saving the high-street. It is bringing the online shopping experience to the high-street through innovative online shopping in a retail store location, focus on the customer experience – much more than just an app. A truly worthy winner.

And the winner is… jisp

SBA 2019 for web-41

“We’re overwhelmed to win. We wanted this award so much because we are a young company and winning it really boosts our confidence. Our technology brings online technology to the high street. We developed it by spending a lot of time talking to retailers to understand their pain points and how we can improve their customers’ experiences.”

Joe Carter, senior graphic designer, jisp

Corporate Social Responsibility Award – sponsored by RoyaleLife


Dometic UK Blind Systems

Fair Ways

Irwin Mitchell

Silver Lining Convergence

Southern Co-op

Tops Day Nurseries

Judges’ comments
For the life-changing work done by staff – be it towards the service users, the projects undertaken to help charities and the local community. For the focus in driving its social responsibility values through its staff training and opportunities. For its investment in the local community – working towards changing public opinion and bringing communities together through positive acts. For showing that you do not need to be a national or multi-million pound organisation to make an impact on society.

And the winner is… Fair Ways

“We’re delighted to be recognised by winning this award. I’m thrilled for everyone at Fair Ways who has been part of our success. Our sense of purpose is to be a company that staff are proud to work for and to retain them. We get involved in CSR projects in three main areas – local community projects, like running soup kitchens; overseas projects, we’re doing this in India; and projects that bring together our service users, like climbing in the Atlas Mountains.”

Mac McHugh, CEO, Fair Ways

Workplace Mental Health & Wellbeing Award – sponsored by Hilton at Ageas Bowl


Advance TRS


Mayflower Theatre

Paris Smith

Southampton Airport

Judges’ comments

A focus on mental health and wellbeing is truly embedded in their business and is hugely benefiting the team. They have a variety of programmes for staff, as well as getting involved as a company, which demonstrated a real understanding that this topic must be tackled in all areas of the business and the lives of its employees. We were also greatly impressed with how their directors opened themselves up to their team and really led by example in a lot of the initiatives and also worked to get rid of the stigma attached to this subject. All of this in an industry that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be leading the field in mental health and wellbeing practices.

 And the winner is… Anglepoise

“It’s a genuine shock to win and we’re very pleased that there is an award which recognises the importance of workplace mental health. It takes time to build wellbeing into your business culture and we try to do it from the start, at recruitment, and through things like team talks and information on our intranet. We also recognise that wellbeing isn’t just about work, but also at home. We make it personal by talking about it openly because that’s the way to end the stigma around mental health.”

John Purnell, managing director, Anglepoise

SME of the Year – sponsored by James Cowper Kreston



Highfield Professional Solutions

Landau UK

Paul Basham Associates

PVC Building Supplies

Veritech Systems

Judges’ comments

We were impressed by the company’s huge commitment to its workforce, with initiatives ranging from clearly defined career paths underpinned by solid training and ownership reward, to simply creating a truly first-class workplace environment. This has resulted in a strong and fast-growing business which is a significant contributor to the local community and economy. They have a passion for their business, which is second to none and an ability to shape the future of their industry.

And the winner is… Highfield Professional Solutions

“We were surprised and very proud to win. It’s great to be recognised for all the hard work we’ve done getting where we are. And winning a local award really means something to us. As a recruitment agency we’re a people business and, for us, our staff are our most important asset. We want everyone to enjoy coming to work and we reinvest most of our profits to make the company better, including an office move 18 months ago.”

Andrew Davis, director, Highfield Professional Solutions

Rising Star – sponsored by Oberon Solutions



Avec UK

Helical Productions

J Williams & Co

Paul Basham Associates


Judges’ comments:

A thriving business whose revenue and profit has grown year-on-year since its inception. It has a fast-growing team of highly knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff who really seem to love what they do. The business is constantly evolving and has some exciting plans to continue to develop its product range and increase its client base across the globe.

And the winner is… Avec UK

“Winning was really unexpected – we were here just to enjoy the evening. Our philosophy is to be adaptable and agile. We’re a self-reflective business that tries to improve, learn and adjust our path as we move forwards. Our retailer customers move at pace and our business model needs to move with them, so we can deliver faster and better than our competitors. We’re gaining momentum with overseas customers and will move into Europe post-Brexit.”

Becks Beere, MD and founder, Avec UK

Best Company to Work For – sponsored by BDB Pitmans


Bluebird Care Gosport


Mayflower Theatre

Judges’ comments:

The leadership team has a genuine drive and commitment to ensure that it is a great place to work, empowering staff and giving them opportunities for personal growth. The business continually reviews and measures itself against its goals and is always looking at how to improve the experience both within the business and how it can deliver a positive impact to the wider community.

And the winner is… Mayflower Theatre

“The best thing about winning this award is that it’s a reflection of our staff and their commitment to the Mayflower Theatre. An award like this recognises all their hard work, especially while we were closed for 15 weeks for a major refurbishment and after we re-opened. I think that as a manager you need to surround yourself with people who make you better, and who will rise to the challenges we face together. We always measure and review what we do – you can never sit still.”

Michael Ockwell, chief executive, Mayflower Theatre

Management Team of the Year Award – sponsored by NatWest


Biscoes Solicitors

Cobweb Solutions

Diametric Technical

Hendy Group


Taylor Made Computer Solutions – a Peach Technologies company

Judges’ comments:

Our winner has continued to make positive strategic progress over the last 12-18 months. And while their main customer markets have experienced some challenges, this management team has worked really hard to successfully develop their products for new customers and markets. The judges were particularly impressed by their focus on continuous improvement, and in the way that staff are fully engaged in the process, with their ideas readily acted upon. This aspect and the very strong staff engagement across different locations reflects the management team’s own journey within the organisation, and the positive and progressive culture they’ve created.

And the winner is… Diametric Technical

“Fantastic. We really didn’t expect to win. We’re quite a humble company and just try to look after everyone. Our philosophy has always been to be open with staff, share information with them and ask for their feedback. Without staff engagement you don’t have a management team. We’re particularly pleased to win in what was a difficult year for us as we diversified the business into new areas outside the automotive sector.”

Graham Steele, managing director, Diametric Technical

Company of the Year – sponsored by KPMG



Cobweb Solutions


Hendy Group


Mayflower Theatre

Judges’ comments:

The winner particularly impressed us, firstly with their investment in customer service based on its strong family culture, supportive working environment and investment in developing talent internally. Secondly, by its strong financial position and track record along with the integration of a large acquisition that will be part of a near doubling of revenue. And finally, this is a third generation, Solent born and based business with a strongly recognised local brand.

And the winner is… Hendy Group

“We’re thrilled to win. There are some great companies in this category so we were up against quality opposition. As a retail company we rely on repeat business, so customer care and satisfaction are paramount – it’s in our lifeblood. This year, we integrated a major acquisition in just six months, which is a testament to both management teams. The quality of our people is so important to us, we keep investing in them and making them better. We’ve been in business 160 years and it’s great to receive this award.”

Paul Hendy, CEO, Hendy Group