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We are very much a Norfolk owned, Norfolk business. We created our vision focusing on people, service and the environment seven years ago and everything we do from boardroom meetings down stems back to that vision
Ian Hacon Chief Executive, Blue Sky Leisure

Business Development Award

Bertram Books

Bertrams was founded more than five decades ago in Norfolk and  has grown in that time into the Bertram Group, a market leading supplier to trade academic and library service business in more than 100 countries. The business is now owned by Smiths News PLC and since that acquisition has seen a new senior management team and the creation of a clear strategic vision to be the world’s best book supplier that it is well on the way to becoming. The strategy has been backed by a multi-million pound investment to help achieve this aim. The business has grown strongly both through organic growth, acquisition both in the UK and overseas to grow its overseas business and also through innovation. The business has reacted to the challenge of digital by making it a key pillar of its strategy, not just expanding into e-books delivery but also launching a new joint venture, a consumer facing online bookshop, Wordery. This alone has seen exceptional growth in its first year and enabled Bertrams, a once traditional supplier, to open a whole new direct- to-consumer arm. All this has led to the group outperforming the UK market delivering revenue and profit growth against a UK market decline.

Heatrae Sadia

Heatrae Sadia is a UK manufacturer of water heating products with a range that spans residential, commercial, light industrial and renewable products all manufactured in Norwich. Recognised as a market leader, not just by sales but by the quality of the products it creates, the products are sold worldwide and enjoy an impressive market position. The company is now part of the BDR Thermea Group and has built its reputation for innovation to the point that it, and the Norwich manufacturing plant, is recognised as the group’s “Centre for Excellence”. This allows it to continue to grow exports in new European markets through group businesses. This has also led to a 1.9m euro investment in a new production line in Norwich to create a new commercial product of its award winning Megaflow brand of domestic cylinders. Heatrae Sadia now manufactures hi-tech water heaters large enough to support whole hospitals giving a range of water heaters from 70 litres right up to 2,500 litres all designed, built and tested in Norwich. This range has won major industry awards in the first year of launch for its innovative design.

Kinnerton Confectionery

Established in 1978, Kinnerton Confectionery is Britain’s largest manufacturer of chocolate and novelty confectionery specialising in character licensing. It supplies confectionary to all UK retailers and is the leading chocolate confectionary supplier to M&S. Three years ago Kinnerton made a clear strategic statement that it wanted to move the business away from being predominantly based on seasonal confectionary, to growing its all year round confectionary products, thus moving the business from being one 70pc reliant on seasonal patterns to a clear 50/50 split by 2015. Kinnerton has exceeded this and is on course for 54pc all-year-round by 2014, a year ahead of plan.    It has achieved this through innovation backed by investment. It launched new award winning licence products with Unilever (Walls) to produce confectionary versions of its global brands Cornetto, Magnum and Mini Milk ice creams. These were launched to large acclaim within the retail industry and have had extremely strong sales. This product innovation to deliver a clear strategy has seen Kinnerton grow its profitability by over 75pc and increase the Norfolk workforce from 600 staff in 2011 to 725 in 2013. Kinnerton has a clear strategy to continue this growth based on an ongoing programme of innovation, further licence tie-ups and global exports backed by a strong commitment to its staff and expanding the Fakenham operation to cope with demand.

Andrew Barnes, senior partner at Howes Percival, is in little doubt as to why the Business Development Award is one of the most popular and keenly contested.

“This is always such a great category because you get new companies or companies with new ventures targeting specific markets, up against existing organisations that have sometimes completely reinvented themselves as their market has changed,” he said. “We are looking for organisations that have made a real step change in their strategy and can demonstrate the results in terms of turnover, profit and job creation.

“Market conditions are still very difficult but this award is about finding those companies that have faced that challenge head-on and delivered growth. It is one thing to grow a company in the good times, it is quite another to do it in a downturn. This award shines a light on those that are doing something different and succeeding. Business development should be an essential aspect of running a good business. No one can stand still these days, you have to change, invest and develop new skills just to survive.

“Innovation, change and business development need to be part of an organisation’s DNA rather than something you just dip into from time to time. Last year the shortlisted companies covered the technology, transport and offshore sectors but we always get a great cross section of the Norfolk economy. Over the years that we’ve been involved in this award the one thing that seems to unite the best companies is how much they are focused on their customers – giving them products and services which they really value and providing a service level which exceeds expectations.”

Award Criteria

This popular category provides the opportunity for businesses which have grown significantly to receive recognition for their achievements.

The winner will have demonstrated how it has grown its overall business through innovation and planned development, supported by strategic investment.

This may, for example, have been achieved by the implementation of a new strategy, the launch of a new product or service or through a successful merger or acquisition.

The judges will be looking at how the development has been reflected in increased turnover and employment and, most importantly, in enhanced profitability.

They will also focus on sustainability and the long-term goals and strategy that have been put in place to maintain financial security and success.