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Jura winner, twice! Island businesses triumph at FSB awards

Two businesses based on the isle of Jura – population 200 - have snapped up awards at the FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards, which took place in Edinburgh.

Jura Store Community Interest Company and Lussa Drinks Company won the community business and start-up business awards respectively. They were joined by nine other winning businesses, seven of which are based in the Highlands and Islands or north-east Scotland. 

Michael Russell, MSP for Jura, said: “In my constituency you’ll find hundreds of brilliant businesses but it is an outstanding achievement for Jura to have two award winning firms based on the island.  

“Official research shows that smaller businesses are critical to the viability of rural and island businesses. We need to celebrate these local operators’ successes and I’m thrilled to see the FSB taking the lead doing just that.”

FSB’s awards ceremony took place in the Playfair Library in Edinburgh. The awards are sponsored by FSB Insurance Services.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Everywhere you look local businesses are driving local growth, sustaining communities, creating jobs and opportunities. I’d like to offer my congratulations to the winners and my thanks to everyone who took the time to enter our awards. 

“While we received great applications from every corner of the country, this year we were overwhelmed by the quality of applications from the north of Scotland and from our island communities. For policymakers, the message is clear: entrepreneurial talent isn’t exclusive to the M8 corridor.”

Alicia MacInnes, co-owner at Lussa Drinks Company, said: “Our business has really gone from strength to strength since the summer of 2015. We’ve managed to sell 15,000 from a remote and isolated island and this award really tops off a special time for us.

“It is extraordinary that our small community has managed to snap up two FSB Celebrating Small Business awards. It goes to show that you run a successful enterprise from anywhere in the country.”

Full list of FSB Celebrating Small Business Award winners:

International Business of the Year – Quarch Technology - Aviemore
Quarch Technology design, part-manufacture, sell and export a huge array of data storage testing tools. Their customers include international big name technology firms. 

Business & Product Innovation Award (sponsored by HIE) – Kate Davies Designs - West Highland Way
Kate Davies Designs was founded in 2010 and has grown from producing digital patterns for hand knitters to publishing books and manufacturing wool yarn. 

Micro Business of the Year (sponsored by Worldpay) – The Wee Hemp Company - Aberdeen
Launched in May 2018, Aberdeen’s The Wee Hemp Company are a small family run business that sell CBD infused products via their online store. Owner’s Rebecca and Calum also advise their customers on adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Ethical-Green Business of the Year (sponsored by Resource Efficient Scotland) – Highland Farm Cottages and Café - Dingwall
Highland Farm Cottages and Café are a 5 star holiday cottage and eco-café business situated on a small family farm just outside Dingwall. They opened their eco-café last year, specialising in sustainably sourced local products, and have grown it into a hub for locals and touring cyclists alike.

Scale-up Business of the Year (sponsored by Business Gateway) – Shetland Distillery Company - Unst
Located at the north end of the UK’s most northerly inhabited island, Unst, the Shetland Distillery Company went into production just over four years ago and has seen phenomenal growth in one of the most remote places in the UK. The distillery plans to install Shetland’s first single malt distillery. 

Family Business of the Year – Cruise Loch Ness
Cruise Loch Ness is a family-run business in Fort Augustus which has carried over two million passengers on Loch Ness since it was founded by the current owner’s father, Norman Mackenzie in 1968. Today, husband and wife team, Ronald and Debi Mackenzie, supported by Norman’s two brother, operate two passenger vessels and three high-speed RIBs.  

Young Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Stagecoach) – Liv Conlon - The Property Stagers - Bothwell
Liv Conlon started her business, The Property Stagers, at age 17 after her mother struggled to sell a property. Liv decided to stage the property – using art, light and furniture to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers - resulting in a sale three days later. Liv now works with clients across the country.  

Employer of the Year (sponsored by Skills Development Scotland) – AJ Engineering – Forres 
AJ Engineering - a metal fabrication and engineering company - was founded 1999 and over the past 20 years the Forres-based firm has employed apprentices and young people. The firm’s managing director Alan James started his career as an apprentice himself.

Community Business of the Year – Jura Store Community Interest Company 
The Jura Community Shop is the only shop on the Isle of Jura serving a population of just over 200. The store, which was bought in 2013, when the only private shop on the island faced closure, became a Community Interest Company. Now 6 years later the store plays a vital role in ensuring that life on the Isle of Jura remains sustainable. 

Digital Innovation Award – Render Studio - Aberdour
Fife-based business, Render Studios, is a 3D visualisation company. Over the past two years Render have specialised in CGI imagery, virtual reality and augmented reality services. 

Start-up Business of the Year – Lussa Drinks Company - Jura
The Isle of Jura’s Lussa Drinks Company sold their first bottle of gin in August 2016, since then they have sold over 15,000 bottles. The small team behind the business use 15 botanicals that they can grow or forage on the isle to make their gin, with love of their location being fundamental to the business.