Judging has finished for this year in the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, which sponsors say has been one of the best ever when it comes to the quality of applications.
It’s been a record year for applications according to the competition’s organisers, the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, with the quality of entries so good that picking the winners has proven a real challenge.
But what do its sponsors think?
CKS Catering based in Blackpool sponsored the Family Business of the Year Award. Director Dawn Cheetham said judging was particularly tough this time around: “This year, we’ve heard from businesses that have traded through the tail-end of Covid restrictions and into a period where the economy started to rebound.
“It’s meant we’ve been presented with case studies that not only showcase grit and determination, but also what’s possible when business confidence returns after a slump. We had some really great family-led businesses enter this year, and this mixture of resilience and return-to-growth stories has proved very potent, making it hard to distinguish between entrants.”
Norman Tenray, chief executive at OBAS UK that supplies construction consumables and workwear from its base in Longridge, and which sponsored the Small Business of the Year Award, agrees: “There were some incredible stories of dedication this year from small businesses that had to really work hard to survive the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic, but that have then gone on to bounce back stronger and fitter for the future.
“It was a real privilege to hear about their exploits, and you could barely separate the applicants from one another, they were all so good.”
Lytham-based IT business Intersys-Micronics sponsored the Innovative Business of the Year Award. Like OBAS UK, it’s been a sponsor for many years. Managing director, Denis Smyth-Hart, said that the quality of entries increases every year, but that 2022 has definitely seen a step-change: “I’ve loved sponsoring and judging the BIBAs over the years because you get glimpse of what’s going on in the background at all these amazing businesses across the county.
“Looking back, you can definitely see that businesses strive harder and harder each year, but it’s fair to say that entrants in 2022 have really upped their game considerably, whether that’s because they feel like they have more to prove or because they’re eager to draw a line under a tough couple of years with a BIBAs win. Either way, it’s been a pleasure to be involved again and I can’t wait to find out who’s won on the night when the awards are announced in Blackpool in September.”