Winners of the prestigious Highland Business Awards are announced

Recognition was given to the achievements of businesses across the Highlands as the winners of the prestigious Highland Business Awards were unveiled during a lunch and awards ceremony organised by Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

Over 300 guests from the Highland business community enjoyed high-level business networking and heard from guest speaker Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotland's Railway discussing the transport connectivity challenges they are committed to improving through significant investment in infrastructure and service.

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12 award categories highlighting the diverse nature of organisations which make up the business community in the Highlands and Islands and Moray; companies both big and small and representing a broad range of sectors and activities. The judging panel is made up from representatives from Inverness Chamber of Commerce, Scottish Provincial Press and Caithness & Sutherland Chamber of Commerce as well as the Developing the Young Workforce regional groups who selected regional winner's for their area.

Outstanding Performing Small Business
sponsored by Business Gateway
Essence of Harris
Inverness Taxis
Quarch Technology Ltd
WINNER: Essence of Harris
The judges were really impressed by the scale of growth of this business.  Having deep roots in the stunningly beautiful Island of Harris to a strong presence in the Oil Capital of Europe, Aberdeen, this business has impressive growth credentials. Yet, they do not forget the critically important details of using carefully selected flora to capture the essence exuding from their products.
 
Outstanding Performing Business (25+ Employees)
Sponsored by O4B Highlands & Islands
Ferguson Transport & Shipping
Gael Force Group
Kingsmills Hotel Group
WINNER: Kingsmills Hotel Group
Judges said they were struck by a strong culture of providing exceptional service and business delivery  that reflects so well across the whole group.  Operating in a key business sector for the Highland economy this organisation has delivered impressive investment, growth and performance over many years and has continually set performance targets against which any Highland business should judge themselves.

Most Promising New Business
Sponsored by EY
Cyber Security Scotland
The Grand Whisky Auction Ltd
Macleod & MacCallum Wealth Management Ltd
WINNER: Cyber Security Scotland 
Already well established as leaders in their field, this business has utilised their considerable expertise in a sector that is of massive relevance to all of us as business leaders.  The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which they have already significantly influenced Government policy.

Best Family Business
sponsored by Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie
Cruise Loch Ness Ltd
D&E Coaches Ltd
Ferguson Transport & Shipping
WINNER: D&E Coaches Ltd
All of the judges were impressed with the strong business growth, driven by impressive family engagement in a competitive market sector.  It was also clear that the whole family was actively engaged in shaping the future, ambitious plans of this successful business.

Best Social Enterprise
sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Farmer Jones Academy
The Oxygen Works
Seaboard Centre
WINNER: Farmer Jones Academy
Supporting and addressing some of the challenges faced by two of the region’s key sectors, Agriculture and Food & Drink the judges felt they were to be commended for the ambitious targets they had set themselves to tackle significant issues of rural deprivation and depopulation.  The whole organisation demonstrates skill and passion in all that they do to encourage young people to see that they can have meaningful and rewarding careers in these sectors.
 
Developing the Young Workforce – Regional Winners

sponsored by DYW Regional Groups - Inverness & Central Highland and North Highland
Nuvia Ltd (North Highland)
Serimax Ltd (Inverness & Central Highland)
WINNER: Nuvia Ltd (North Highland)
The judges were impressed with their engagement with young people, apprenticeships and DYW, particularly their induction for their apprentices.  Their carefully structured programme includes an evening event for new candidates and their families to engage with key members of the team embracing the young people as individuals joining part of something bigger. 
  
Developing the Young Workforce – Highly Commended

The Apprentice Store (Inverness & Central Highland)
Calico UK (Inverness & Central Highland)
High Life Highland (Inverness & Central Highland)
Skibo Ltd (North Highland)
Each of these organisations has excelled in their efforts to help us achieve zero percent youth unemployment in the Highlands.
 
Young Apprentice of the Year
sponsored by Albyn Group
Emma Gunn - Nuvia Ltd
Reece Musgrave - Cairngorms National Park Authority
Gregor Rose - The Highland Council
Holly Williams - The Lovat Loch Ness
WINNER: Holly Williams - The Lovat Loch Ness
A remarkable and committed young woman who clearly demonstrates the importance of young people to individual, ambitious businesses and who has quickly established herself as a key member of the team at Lovat Loch Ness Hotel.
 
Exporter of the Year

Sponsored by Highlands & Islands Export Partnership
WINNER: Speyside Distillers Co Ltd
Continued diversification and improved global sales, along with innovation at home, has ensured this business has continued to trade impressively on the global stage.  Once again, more than worthy winners of this important award.
 
Best Newcomer to Exporting

Sponsored by Edge CTP
Gael Force Group
Isle of Skye Distillers Ltd
Ortak Ltd
WINNER: Gael Force Group
This winner had the clear view that moving into the international marketplace was an obvious next step in the development of their business.  They demonstrated to the judges their strong business strategy ensured that confident exporting plans were put in place and then strongly delivered.
 
Inverness & Ross-shire Business of the Year
Sponsored by teclan Digital Marketing
Gael Force Group
Inverness Taxis
Serimax Ltd
WINNER: Serimax Ltd
The judges were convinced Serimax is a truly amazing business, with a strong financial performance and great engagement with their communities.
 
Caithness & Sutherland Business of the Year

sponsored by Caithness Chamber of Commerce
Cyber Security Scotland
Norse Stone Ltd
Stacks Bistro
WINNER: Cyber Security Scotland
Judges said Cyber Security Scotland was "Clearly ‘ahead of the curve’.  The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which they have engaged significantly and successfully with the Scottish Government."
 
Business Leader of the Year

sponsored by Balfour Beatty
Alasdair Ferguson - Ferguson Transport & Shipping
Gavin Johnston - Inverness Taxis
Jamie McGowan - Essence of Harris
Hugh Simpson Snr - Hugh Simpson (Contractors) Ltd
WINNER: Alasdair Ferguson – Ferguson Transport & Shipping
Ally Ferguson, Ferguson Transport and Shipping – A great barometer for all of us in business in the Highlands & Islands, particularly in terms of Ally’s style and passion.

Highland Business of the Year
sponsored by Springfield Properties
selected from the category winners announced at the event
WINNER: Ferguson Transport & Shipping
The Highland Business of the Year has been chosen due to the outstanding leadership of their Chief Executive and their exceptionally strong placing in each of the categories they entered.

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the Highland Business Awards, and thanks to all who entered! 

The judges were pleased with the entries to this seventh Highland Business Awards and delighted that the Awards continue to attract a significant number of entries and the quality of these entries remain at an exceptionally high standard.  

As a panel, the judges worked extremely hard and diligently to reach strong agreement on the short-list for each category.  Selecting the winners for each category was, however, no easy task due to the increasingly high standard of entries.  The judges had a unanimous view that the calibre of the entries in more than a few categories was exceptionally high and presented a real challenge in having to select a winner.

The breadth of activity and outstanding business achievement across every sector and size of business is really encouraging.  The judging panel was united in asserting that the entries this year truly reflected the strength, resilience and innovation of Highland businesses from every location across the region.