April/May 2019

The Greater Manchester Business Awards 2019

The evening of Friday 8 February marked the spectacular third annual awards night of the Greater Manchester Business Awards.

Following the success of the previous two years the event once again gave business owners the chance to bring their staff and clients along to a fun and glamorous night out in recognition of the hard work and support they had put into the business. For both clients and staff it’s the opportunity to say thank you from the business owners, and also a chance for businesses to network and to make new contacts and prospects.

The awards evening certainly lived up to expectations. The event is now a regular feature in the Greater Manchester Business Community diary. Organised by specialist conference organisers, innov8 Conference Services, the evening delivered exactly the right mix of fun, glamour, and acknowledgement for all the businesses that took part. The evening also supported chosen charity Vasculitis UK. The venue for the Awards Ceremony was the Imperial War Museum North in Salford Quays. An iconic modern museum which provided a spectacular backdrop to the evening.

As media partners GM Business Connect were more than pleased to support the event once again, and it has now become one of the pivotal dates in our portfolio of business activities, particularly fitting in with our mantra of ‘connecting’ businesses which we are extremely keen to promote.

The evening commenced with a drinks reception which then moved into the main exhibition area of the museum where proceedings were introduced by our host for the evening – Key 103’s Darren Proctor. After a four course meal, accompanied by a live performance from String Infusion, the awards ceremony itself commenced with the 12 categories being introduced in turn by 8 judges. The choice of shortlisted businesses, and indeed eventual winners, were as a result of the 8 judges who were brought in from many different businesses, organisations and backgrounds. Out of the many submissions there were a total of 39 shortlisted businesses and individuals, and the process of choosing the winners was incredibly difficult due to the very high calibre of nominees. Event organisers innov8 Conference Services commented: “When we first set out to create the Greater Manchester Business Awards, we had a vision for creating Greater Manchester’s fairest and most transparent Business Awards. “We put together a panel of leading Business Experts from across the Greater Manchester Industry, Technology, Manufacturing, Legal and many more sectors. The Panel were also from different backgrounds, ranging from public sector organisations to small and large businesses across many differing sectors. I cannot stress how important it is to get a Panel of Business Leaders together like the ones we had, who made the process impartial and ensured that the awards went to those who truly deserve it. We were truly thankful for the Panel in sharing their years of Business Experience and also for the time and effort they put into the whole process. This was the third year for the Greater Manchester Business Awards, each year the quality of the applications goes up and up. This year was an even more intense competition than in the previous two, and the winners were representative of not only Manchester’s diversity of trades and industries but also covered the length and breadth of the region. With winners from Stockport, Bolton, Wigan, Salford, Manchester Central and more, this was truly a Greater Manchester Business Awards.

Greater Manchester Business Awards Networking

“The Imperial War Museum was also a gorgeous venue to host the awards and the food was excellent. Whilst a lot of praise rightly goes on the winners, just getting to the Shortlist was a difficult task, the panel only shortlisted the absolute cream of the crop when it came to the awards. Having the panel in control of all the shortlisted and eventual winners was also a massive task and it goes to show the experience of the Judges when you see the sheer quality of entrants that they had to review. To get to the evening itself, with the venue completely full and also such a fantastic buzz in the room, was testament to the strength of businesses in Greater Manchester. Feedback so far has been incredibly high, everyone had a fantastic evening with great entertainment from String Infusion, and our brilliant compere Darren Proctor from Key103.

“As an Events Company, we get frustrated when we see Awards putting out huge shortlists of 30 categories and 10 companies in each category. For us it’s not about getting a thousand people in one room, its about getting the cream of Manchester’s businesses together to share their successes and highlight their fantastic achievements, whilst rewarding those who are truly exceptional with an Award. The Greater Manchester Business Awards will continue to cement itself as a yearly awards process and we expect that next year will be even tougher with companies now not only looking to enter for the first time, but also those who won this year looking to repeat their success next year. Our aim however will still be the same, to create the fairest and therefore the most valuable Business Award in Greater Manchester.”

As the inaugural Greater Manchester Business Awards 2019 reached a fitting end, talk was already of next year’s event, with the emphasis firmly on celebrating Manchester’s vibrant, innovative and growing business community.

The evening was a fantastic success for all the Manchester businesses taking part. This included Jobwise, who won no less than a total of three categories! We caught up with managing director Leanne Goodwin to find out what she thought about the three awards, and what she thought made her business stand out amongst all the other finalists:

Leanne Goodwin, Jobwise

“We are all honoured here at Jobwise to have scooped a hat trick of accolades at the Greater Manchester Business Awards, especially in the face of such strong and fierce competition. We are also absolutely delighted to have won these awards in our 40th year. Being at the awards on the night, we were quietly confident, but to go on and win all three was such a surreal experience and beyond our wildest dreams. We have been assisting local businesses and job seekers for over 40 years offering total recruitment solutions in an industry-leading and unique way. We have the passion, ability and commitment to find your perfect match; whether that be a job you will love or a candidate that you will love. We supply both Temporary and Permanent office staff in any sector and any role.

“Matching the right person to the right job goes to the very heart of our service which is based around a consultative approach, getting a true understanding of your needs and expectations, saving you valuable time throughout the whole recruitment process. Our qualified recruitment consultants will go that extra mile to help you in your quest. We don’t just offer a range of jobs, we also offer help with CV writing and interview techniques.

“With branches that span the whole North West region, we will have an office that is convenient to you. We go above and beyond in the recruitment process, saving our clients time and money, but not just that, also doing it in a personable, friendly and honest way. The ‘Jobwise’ way. All our team have played their part in these awards and I couldn’t be prouder of them all. We say don’t just look for a job, look for a job you will LOVE! Here’s to the next 40 years of business!”


One of the most hotly contested awards this year was the Business of the Year Award for companies with over 50 staff. Claiming the category in the face of some extremely persuasive entries Verastar came out as very worthy winners. We spoke to Chris Earle, CEO of Verastar about what the win meant for his business: “Verastar, through our brands kinex and Clear Business, has consistently had a strong performance record, thanks to our unique offering which consolidates multiple business services on a one-bill solution. We started out in 1998 as an energy broker and have evolved over the last two decades to a licensed multi-service provider offering telecoms, broadband, mobile, gas, electricity, water and insurance (through our sister company The Insurance Octopus) to over 160,000 small businesses.

Chris Earle, Verastar

“We are proud to be born and bred in Manchester and that we have been able to take our solutions nationwide through our sales-oriented approach and acquisitions. This was our first year entering the Greater Manchester Business Awards. They have a great ethos as they pride themselves on being fair and transparent which attracted us. It’s fantastic to see such a range of Manchester businesses being celebrated by the awards, especially those just starting out and with young business people at the helm.

“Everyone has to start somewhere and this city is a great place to build a business from. To be celebrated for our progress and named Business of the Year is a brilliant achievement and testament to the hard work from all the team, not only in the last year but since we started 20 years ago. Over the next 20 years we plan to further establish ourselves as the supplier of choice for essential services to small businesses and as an employer of choice in the region by continuing to offer a growing number of opportunities.”


Perhaps one of the most difficult categories to judge this year was the Business Person of the Year. The winner had to stand out from many fantastic entrants showing an exemplary level of leadership and skill in all aspects of running their business. The winner this year was Nicola Fleury, Managing Director and Owner of the Kidzrus chain of private day nurseries. We spoke to Nicola to find out more about her business and what she thought of winning the award:

Nicola, congratulations on winning the business person of the year award. How did you feel when you heard you had been successful?

Nicola Fleury, Kidzrus

“I was amazed, to be honest! It was the first time we’d entered an Award outside of the Nursery Sector and we were thrilled to have even been shortlisted. Our expertise in our field is something we are proud of but we weren’t sure how it would compare in the general business arena. I know that the other finalists were all great business figures, so given all that – plus being the only woman shortlisted – I’m sure you can see why when we won we were surprised – and thrilled!”

Did you enjoy the evening? Obviously this was a personal award, so was anyone else there with you?
“It was a great night, there were other people there we knew personally as well as professionally, which was nice. And we really are a team. It might be my vision but I know it could never happen without the amazing colleagues and family members who work hard and do such a great job, every day. I was really pleased that I could share the evening’s wonderful events with my family and staff – the Kidzrus team!”

How long has Kidzrus been going? Tell us a bit about your background?
“Well, I was born and grew up in Salford and I am very proud of where I came from. I started a childminding business in 2005, working from home – with the vision of one day having my own chain of nurseries. I took it one day at a time though, as I am passionate about the wellbeing of the children and that always comes first – it can’t be rushed.”

There is obviously a lot to think about when opening a nursery and it’s a big responsibility, how did you manage to grow your business?
“I was always ambitious – but I kept my principles and concern for doing the right thing at the top of my mind, and that laid the foundations for the growth of the Kidzrus Nursery Group. Safeguarding, wellbeing, partnerships; these aren’t just things I talk about, they are what me and my Teams all live, every day, and they are the key to our vision. My desire to extend this ethos is what’s helped me develop five nurseries across Greater Manchester in MediaCityUK, Irlam, Eccles, and two sites in Swinton. I now have 80 staff, and offer 350 childcare places.”

Do you have anything to say to other businesses in the area?
“Absolutely! We are just starting to work with businesses across Salford so we’d like to extend that offering to your readers too. Any organisation with parents on their staff is invited to contact us, and we will be pleased to discuss the special rates we offer our partners, so they can provide a discounted childcare package to their employees. Children can be dropped off and collected from any of our 5 nurseries near home or work – or on the way – safe in the knowledge that every one of them is not only part of a successful Group, but as one of my nurseries, it is uniquely important to me and the team there.”

Thank you Nicola – is there anything else you want to add?
“Just this: my motto is ‘Every Child, Every Chance’. I have a vision to provide outstanding, quality childcare to this community I am so passionate about, ensuring that all children have the best start in life, and I am so proud that the award recognised the work that’s been done towards this.”