Small business of the year named at prestigious FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards

  • 24 May 2022

A company in Aberdeenshire that pivoted its seafood supply business during the pandemic to a direct to customer door offer has been named UK Small Business of the Year at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards. 

Businesses from across the UK gathered in Glasgow for the business awards final, following the regional awards that had been held throught the UK earlier in the year.

More than 500 award entrants and their guests watched TV personalities Clare Balding and JJ Chalmers host the event, which included a special address by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

 

Prior to the pandemic, Amity Fish Company Limited based in Aberdeenshire was focused on B2B: supplying restaurants, fish and chip shops and food service kitchens across the UK. When lockdown hit, that business was lost overnight. However, the business seized a new demand from consumers for direct to door fish orders. Demand for home delivery didn’t waver with the lifting of hospitality restrictions and the company invested in a new custom-built website and ecommerce platform. Turnover has doubled and the number of employees has grown from four to seven.

Other winners include a Norfolk based small business that has engineered a plastic alternative using plant-based materials that is used to make fully compostable and biodegradable coffee capsules; an innovative husband and wife team who designed a 100% cotton canvas awning and launched their business after identifying a gap in the market for a ‘posh’ awning to pitch next to their vintage campervan; whilst the young entrepreneur award was scooped by Abdul Shiil who established a social enterprise in the care sector from a wish to give back to the community following the support he received when he first came to the UK as a refugee.

Jimmy Buchan, managing director of Amity Fish Company, said: “I am stunned that our small business has been crowned FSB’s UK Small Business of the Year. I’ve worked in the fishing industry for more than four decades, and the last few years have been amongst the most challenging on record. But thanks to the dedication and ingenuity of my team, not only have we made it through but we’re landing new customers. My thanks go to FSB for hosting these brilliant awards, and to all those people that have given our fantastic products a chance.” 

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Congratulations to Amity Fish Company; a company that innovated to survive through the pandemic, adopting digital skills. It takes grit and talent to thrive in the face of constant challenges but, despite all the headwinds, this is a brilliant example of ingenuity, innovation, creativity - a perfect illustration of how vital small businesses are to the economy and to our communities. Congratulations to all the winners.”

 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Smaller businesses are critically important to our local economies and communities. That’s why I was honoured to speak at FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards and hear first-hand about the huge contribution local businesses are making right across the country.

“The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be the best place in the UK to start and run a business. And it is a ringing endorsement of the tenacity of our entrepreneurial spirit that, for the third year in a row, FSB’s small business of the year is based in Scotland.

“I offer my personal congratulations to Amity Seafood – a business that rose to the many challenges the pandemic posed, seeking out new opportunities in exceptionally tough conditions. It’s also important to recognise the grit, determination and success of, not just all the winners at FSB’s event today, but the entire small business community.

“Small businesses and the self-employed are hugely important to the Scottish Government’s ambition for Scotland and FSB does a stellar job standing up for their interests.”

More than 3,000 small businesses from across the UK entered the awards which are an annual celebration of the UK’s small business and self-employed sector and there are winners across 11 categories, which illustrate the ingenuity and vitality of the sector.

The full list of UK category winners are:

Microbusiness of the Year Award – Winner: Glawning Ltd, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Innovative husband and wife team James and Sarah Martin set up their business after identifying a gap in the market for a ‘posh’ awning to pitch next to their vintage campervan. They designed a 100% cotton canvas awning and launched their business Glawning Ltd, which turned over more than £500,000 in the last financial year.

Environmental/Sustainability Award – Winner: Solinatra, Norfolk
Solinatra has engineered a plastic alternative using plant-based materials, which is being used to make fully compostable and biodegradable coffee capsules. The material has been created using plant waste and agricultural by-products, in response to the issues of plastic pollution and the need for a more circular economy.

 

Start-Up Business of the Year – Winner: Team Evolve, County Durham
Entrepreneurs Lee Simpson and Stuart Allan joined forces following their Army careers to launch a business together during the pandemic, and have quickly turned it into a major success, with a £3million annual turnover. The pair spotted a gap in the market for a full-service property development company, delivering projects from beginning-to-end for investors and organisations with the cash to invest, but not the time or expertise to make their plans a reality.

Business & Product Innovation Award – Winner: Trenches Law, Odiham
Trenches Law has created a novel product which automates the so-called “wayleave process” that broadband providers need to conduct before installing new cables. Prior to the product’s development, securing wayleaves would involve manually scouring the Land Registry for hours before securing sign-off from property owners for underground broadband infrastructure. The company’s solution automates the investigation, creation and distribution of wayleaves, without the need for laborious, and often expensive, deskwork.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year (age 30 and under) – Winner: Abdul Shiil, London
Refugee turned entrepreneur Abdul Shiil established social enterprise Sahan Cares in 2012 with a vision to give back to the community following the support he received when he first came to the UK as a refugee. He offers training programmes to potential carers, all of whom are from a refugee background, and employs many in his company.

Digital/E-commerce Business of the Year – Winner: Amity Fish Company Ltd., Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
This seafood supply small business pivoted to a direct to customer door offer during the lockdown, the success of which prompted the company to invest in a new e-commerce site to continue to grow that side of the business. Turnover has doubled as a result. Amity Fish Company was also named as the overall UK small business of the year 2022.

 

International Business of the Year - Winner: OLPROWorcestershire
OLPRO is an e-commerce business selling outdoor goods, from tents to walking boots, to customers all over the world. The company currently exports to 29 countries, and was recognised for its innovative approach to entering new markets through strong marketing strategies.

Wellbeing Award of the Year - Winner: Beyond Retail, Bournemouth
Beyond Retail has three online retail brands and sells home products to help customers create their dream spaces. The company embeds a caring culture for employees; Staff have access to mindfulness and wellbeing resources, enhanced sick pay and generous family policies, while the dog-friendly office boasts two gyms, free healthy snacks, and a leisure library with books and games.

Family Business of the Year – Winner: Platts Agriculture Ltd., Wrexham A multigenerational family business from Wrexham. Established in 1973 by then-farmers Robert and Christine Platt, the business is now a market leader, manufacturing and delivering specialist dairy cattle bedding nationwide, and employing 60 staff across three sites in Wrexham.

High Growth Business of the Year – Winner: Archaeological Research Services, Bakewell
A provider of commercial heritage services to clients across the construction and development sectors, investigating archaeological remains to create value, inspiration and historical knowledge. A five-year growth plan focusing on people investment, restructuring and innovation research has skyrocketed turnover to over £5 million in 2021, from £2.6 million the previous year, reaching a 20% margin.

 

Self-Employed/Sole Trader of the Year – Winner: Inksters Solicitors, Scotland
Founder Brian Inkster operates as a sole trader supported by a range of self-employed solicitors in offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Eigg, Forfar, Inverness, Lerwick, Portree, Thurso and Wick, with back office support provided from a base in Glasgow. In May 2021, Inksters became the first law firm in Scotland to replace salaried solicitors with self-employed consultant solicitors, thereby ensuring that all benefit directly from the fruits of their own labour. Each is fully supported by an administrative team to help them grow their own businesses, and all are remunerated on a fee-sharing basis.

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