Kingston's business community was saluted for its vibrancy and innovation at the glittering Gala Dinner of the Kingston Business Excellence Awards in association with British Land & USS.
The fifth annual awards celebrating the Royal Borough's business successes and achievements, was hosted by founding partners Kingston Council, Kingston Chamber of Commerce and Kingston First at the prestigious Ravens Ait venue on the River Thames (Thursday, 12th October).
Over 250 people cheered as Banquet Records, the iconic record store in Eden Street, was crowned Business of the Year, ahead of 11 category award winners at the event, compered this year by TV and radio host Becky Ives.
Banquet Records, which was set up 15 years ago by Mike Smith and Jon Tolley, has built an international reputation for bringing top bands to the Royal Borough.
Mike Smith commented: "It's an honour to be recognised - but for us it's not about being the best business but about being part of a progressive and a vibrant Kingston. So, this award is for all the businesses who contribute towards the Kingston we love."
Guests at the Gala Awards Dinner travelled by boat across the Thames at Surbiton to enjoy a fabulous meal and entertainment at the unique Ravens Ait.
The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston, Councillor Julie Pickering, said: "It was an amazing evening - I've seen these awards grow over the last five years, each year getting bigger and better.
"But it is the vibrancy of the businesses that is striking. You can see their diversity, their innovation and their passion. We have 8,000 businesses in Kingston – I hope many more of them enter the awards in 2018."
Kirsten Henly, Chief Executive Officer of Kingston First, the Business Improvement District for Kingston upon Thames said the awards were a real morale boost for local businesses.
She commented: "It was a brilliant evening and a fantastic celebration of the businesses in Kingston and their drive for excellence. These awards are now really sought-after and are also a good process for businesses to go through in terms of thinking about how they might grow and develop."
Kingston's Deputy Chief Executive, Roy Thompson, added that the Council was particularly happy to back the Best Start Up award in view of the forthcoming launch of the new Economic Growth and Development Strategy which is aimed at supporting local business, developing skills and driving prosperity across the borough.
Praising Ravens Ait, the new venue for 2017, Kingston Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Jerry Irving, said: "I think it has been another fabulous evening for the Awards. I would like to thank everyone involved from ourselves and our partners, Kingston Council and Kingston First, to all our amazing sponsors, including British Land and USS."
The headline sponsors, British Land & USS, are the owners of the Eden Walk shopping centre in the heart of Kingston, which is set to undergo a multi-million-pound, retail, leisure and residential redevelopment.
Kate Lea, Asset Manager of British Land & USS, said: "We are always keen to support initiatives that give businesses a platform to showcase and celebrate their successes and are proud to be involved in Kingston's thriving economy and working with its businesses."
Full list of KBEA 2017 winners:
Business of the Year
Winner: Banquet Records
Highly Commended: Mental Movement Magazine
Best Start-Up Business (sponsored by Exchange@Kingston)
Highly commended: The Dapper Fox Barbers
Commended: Wags N Tales Coffee Bar
Best Business for Customer Service (sponsored by McDonald's)
Winner: The Terrace Eatery
Highly commended: Metro Bank
Commended: boilerPRO, Milano Barbers
Best SME Business (sponsored by Antoinette Hotels)
Winner: Kingston Mortgage Services
Highly commended – Omni Local & Milano Barbers
Best Business for Food, Leisure and Hospitality
Winner: The Terrace Eatery
Highly commended: The Boaters Inn
Commended: Fortunella, Kingston Frangos
Best Business for Marketing and Social Media
Winner: Banquet Records
Highly commended: Figment Agency
Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by CNM Estates)
Winner: Richard Stacey – Surbiton Sitters
Highly commended: Chris Poore – Kingston Mortgage Services
Commended: Steven Grant – Figment Agency
Independent Retailer of the Year (sponsored by Kingston First)
Winner: Milano Barbers
Highly commended: Banquet Records
Commended: Road Cycle Exchange
Best Business for Staff Training and Development (sponsored by Kingston University)
Winner: Holland Hahn & Wills
Highly commended: Kingston Bentalls McDonald's
Best Charity or Social Enterprise (sponsored by Bentalls)
Highly commended: Momentum Children's Charity
Commitment to the Community (sponsored by NatWest)
Winner: Mental Movement Magazine
Highly commended: Halsa Surbiton
Commended: Tony Fruit's Stall (Kingston Market)
Apprentice Employer of the Year (sponsored by Kingston College)
Winner: Now Vauxhall Kingston
Highly commended: Smart Training