Manchester based property developer Beech Holdings has today been crowned the overall winner of the 2016 Local Business Accelerators scheme, battling against local businesses nationwide to win the grand prize of free local newspaper advertising and mentoring from Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.
Now in its third run, LBA is the local press industry’s initiative to find and accelerate the best local businesses. It is fronted by national ambassador Deborah Meaden and backed by high profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron and business organisations such as the CBI and ICAEW.
In addition to the overall LBA award, 11 promising businesses from across the UK were shortlisted for the finals of LBA and showcased in the online People’s Choice Vote. More than 1,600 votes were cast in the space of a week and The Salisbury Journal’s nomination Blue Bee Solutions, a digital marketing agency, emerged as the most popular business to claim the title of LBA People’s Choice Winner.
Organised by Local Media Works, the marketing body for the local press industry, LBA saw local newspapers up and down Britain join the hunt to find the best local businesses. As the 2016 LBA overall winner, Beech Holdings will receive business mentoring from Deborah Meaden, free advertising in their local paper, the Manchester Evening News, as well as £1,000 worth of business advice from an ICAEW chartered accountant and free entry to three CBI events for small businesses.
With a passion for bringing unloved historic buildings back to useful purpose, owner Stephen Beech launched his business in 2013 to develop energy efficient, well designed and affordable accommodation. Beech Holdings’ first project saw the conversion of an unused building that had been derelict for over 10 years into 35 low carbon apartments.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The Local Business Accelerators campaign is doing great work boosting local economies and giving talented entrepreneurs the support they need to see their firms progress.
“I am delighted to see once again that such a broad range of businesses are involved, from a software development company to a snack bar producer. Special congratulations to this year’s overall winner, Beech Holdings, which has been innovatively transforming derelict buildings into energy-efficient accommodation.
“The LBA campaign also shows how local newspapers – who are at the heart of the communities they serve – play an integral part in spreading the word about great local companies, allowing them to thrive and further benefit the towns, cities and villages they serve.”
Manchester-born Beech Holdings owner and founder, Stephen Beech, said he was delighted to have landed the award.
“To win this national award, as well as the recognition that comes with it, is a very special moment for Beech Holdings,” he said. “We have a great story and are proud of the work we have done over the years in both the centre of Manchester and some of its surrounding suburbs.
“To be congratulated, talked about and hailed as innovative by Prime Minister David Cameron, is slightly surreal but shows how far we have come. Innovative very much represents what the company and staff that work here are all about.”
He added: “We’re looking forward to some exciting months ahead with many city centre projects in the pipeline. We’re also looking forward to working with Deborah Meaden after being crowned overall winner of the 2016 Local Business Accelerators.”
Deborah Meaden, who led the judging panel for the initiative, said: “I am thrilled once again to have been involved in the campaign. LBA demonstrates the importance of local papers and the role they play in economies across the country. Local newspaper advertising, whether in print or online, can provide a boost to businesses, benefiting the wider local community.
“Beech Holdings is a very worthy winner and I look forward to working with Stephen and his team to help them maximise their full potential.”
Led by Deborah, the LBA judging panel consisted of key business figures including CBI acting director for competitive markets Tom Thackray, Mail on Sunday small business editor Vicki Owen, ICAEW business director Stephen Ibbotson, Local Media Works chairman Craig Nayman, and News Media Association deputy chief executive Lynne Anderson.
The businesses were judged on a series of criteria including the originality of the business idea, their finances and future prospects, their communication skills, their positive impact upon the local community, and their potential to benefit from local newspaper advertising.