Meet The Finalists: 'Business of the Year' Award

Biz of year

The Business of the Year Award, sponsored by PwC, is a hotly contested category in the Maritime UK Awards.. 

Open to businesses of any size, this award will be made to a business that has demonstrated a real understanding of its target market and positioned or adapted itself accordingly, showing impressive growth/growth potential, and sustainability in terms of one or more of the following: job creation; turnover and/or national/international impact.

The winners will be announced in front of 400 of the industry’s finest at a glittering ceremony at Southampton’s Leonardo Royal Hotel on Thursday 19 September during the Southampton International Boat Show.

Category sponsor, PwC, is a leading, multinational professional services network. Julian Gray, PwC Southampton Office Senior Partner, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the ‘Business of the Year Award’ category in the inaugural Maritime UK Awards. This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate successes in the industry and inspire collaboration to further the maritime agenda.

“It’s fantastic to hear the Solent has been chosen to host the awards. It’s a dynamic, vibrant area with a thriving maritime industry. Our PwC Southampton office is proud to support the variety of opportunities the sector presents the region.” 

Highly respected experts from a variety of businesses and government departments were involved in the panel and judge Iain Lower, Head of Naval Staff at the Royal Navy, said: “The standard of entrants surpassed our wildest expectations both in terms of quality and numbers.  More than anything it shows the UK maritime sector, which adds £37.4bn to the UK economy and supports just under 1 million jobs, is bursting with energy and innovation and is proud of its achievements.”

Shortlisted are three strong entries: Ribeye Boats; Williams Shipping and Pole Star.

Since 1998 Ribeye has changed the way the leisure user approaches the sea. From humble beginnings in the beautiful seaside town of Dartmouth, Devon, Ribeye’s driving ambition has always been to manufacture the best leisure RIBs in the world. A second-generation family business, it has seen rapid growth in recent years by placing the customer at the centre of its operations. This is no better illustrated by Ribeye being the only RIB manufacturer in the UK that offers an in-house training school on site which is run by its own personnel and can be tailored for an individual customer’s needs. Turnover has increased threefold: from £2.5m in 2011 to £7.5m in 2019. Its current projections for the next 3-5 years show that there is significant growth of up to 20% and more jobs as a result.

Williams Shipping is based in Southampton providing a broad range of marine and logistics services, focused on the Maritime Industry across the UK. Founded by George Williams in 1894, the company is run by the fourth and fifth generations of the family and this year held a 125th year celebration for its staff. An ability to change and adapt has been the key to longevity. Today the company supports green initiatives and now most company cars are either electric or hybrid. Through good management, the company has a achieved year on year growth over the past decade, and has exciting growth targets for the coming years. While very different from the early days, the company is still run with the same ethos for care of its staff, service to its customers, quality, reliability and above all safety.

A software solutions company, Pole Star was the first company to develop real-time tracking in the maritime industry in 1998, and since then, it has continued to rapidly evolve around current industry needs. Over the past 30 years, financial crime has become a major concern for governments and in 2014, Pole Star developed PurpleTRAC, the first RegTech solution incorporating both vessel screening and tracking. But solving major issues requires collaboration, so in early 2019, Pole Star officially partnered with Dow Jones to set a new standard for safeguarding against criminality in maritime trade. This partnership has grown our business significantly both in terms of profitability and job creation.

Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK, said: “What’s important about the Maritime UK Awards is they’re very much about showcasing the entire spectrum of maritime businesses, from consumer marine and cruising to advanced manufacturing and commercial shipping. I’m delighted to report that the entries very much bear this out. Throughout this process we’ve discovered world-class British products, services and initiatives that we didn’t previously have on our radar. That’s the real prize from these awards.”

Ben Murray, director at Maritime UK, said: “With the number and quality of the entries being so high the judges had the unenviable task of arriving at the shortlists. I think they’ve done a terrific job so huge thanks to everyone. I would also like to thank all the entrants for their enterprise, commitment and enthusiasm. Their support has been invaluable.”

The Maritime UK Awards, are the first truly national maritime awards in the UK, organised by industry, for the benefit of industry. The inaugural event will take place in Southampton on 19th September, following a successful drive from Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for the first awards ceremony to be held in the Solent. Stellamar Employment Solutions and DonMac Data are Diamond Sponsors. 

To buy tickets to the awards evening visit the official website. All attendees will receive a free ticket to the Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat, on purchase of their awards evening ticket.