Shortlisted entries demonstrate energy, bravery and determination

Over 150 of the UK’s most innovative and resilient public and private sector businesses have been announced today, Wednesday 28th July, as finalists in the National Business Awards in partnership with Orange. Organisations shortlisted this year range from the well-known — Unilever, Camelot, Marks & Spencer, American Express, Coca Cola, The Co-Operative Group and Kwik Fit — through to the rising stars of Ella’s Kitchen, Freesat, Coffee Nation, Naked Wines, and Cheapflights.

“Orange has sponsored the National Business Awards for the past nine years and I am delighted that the calibre of entrants keeps on improving. It's been a tough couple of years for business but the UK's organisations have not let this stop them from delivering success. I'd like to congratulate all the finalists for being a real inspiration for what is possible in business”, said Martin Stiven, Vice President, Orange UK.

The total number of organisations entering the National Business Awards in 2010 increased by over 40 percent compared to last year despite the challenging market conditions. From eco breweries to family-run medical recruitment companies, the diversity of the finalists is staggering, while competition for the big prizes is red hot.

Commenting on the encouraging figures and the calibre of entries, Philip Forrest, Chairman of Judges, the National Business Awards, said: “The economic climate continues to present UK businesses with an unprecedented challenge and it is therefore encouraging that the entries in this year’s National Business Awards have shown no drop in quality or performance. Congratulations to all finalists for demonstrating great strength in the ability to adapt and innovate quickly which no doubt reflects the resilience and optimism that are the hallmarks of UK enterprise.”

Finalists will as of today prepare to make their presentations in person before an independent, expert judging panel from 20th September — 6th October.

2010 winners will be unveiled at a glittering award ceremony on 9th November at the Grosvenor House hotel in London. Current title holders include Peter Marks, Group CEO, the Co-op, who won The Orange Leader of the Year in 2009 and Tristram Mayhew, CEO, Go Ape, who won The Santander Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year Award 2009.

“Applying for the National Business Awards was in itself a good business discipline since it required a rigorous assessment of our strengths and weakness as an organisation. Going on to win an award has been a great boost for all the 350 people who have dedicated themselves to making Go Ape a success. It has given us fantastic PR opportunities right across the country and provided a small company with added commercial credibility”, said last year’s winner of the 2009 Santander SME Award and Go Ape Founder, Tristram Mayhew.

Hoping to mirror the success of fellow SME, Go Ape, in this year’s Awards, is Naked Wines, a finalist in the Orange Innovation Award. Naked Wines is an online wine market, which was very bravely created by 17 “deranged and passionate” friends during the height of the recession. The company supports independent winemakers from around the world, investing in them in return for preferential prices which are then passed onto customers. Its proving to be a highly successful business model with huge potential for profitable growth - hence their nomination today alongside all the other finalists who so richly deserve to be named and celebrated. In today’s uncertain market, bravery, energy and creativity are needed more than ever.