Business of the Year Nominees


Category criteria

  • The Business of the Year category is open to businesses with an annual turnover of more than £5 million.
  • Entrants should demonstrate outstanding success during their most recent full financial year.
  • Success can be judged on metrics ranging from exceptional growth and increased trading profit through to the development of services, developing staff, products or new production techniques.
  • The judges will welcome entries from businesses committed to corporate social responsibility.


Business of the Year entrant

Staffordshire-based international technology company Lucideon is taking the region’s traditional expertise in ceramics and transforming it to meet the needs of a global audience.
The company, based in Stone, applies scientific and engineering expertise and a laser focus on its commercial application to deliver material science at speed.
Its work is having a considerable impact – touching all corners of the world, and even taking a piece of Staffordshire into space.
Lucideon is also making a considerable impact to the nation’s achievement of Net Zero.
Lucideon is on a significant growth path, with an ambition to reach a turnover of £50 million in the next five years. Turnover for 2023 was £24.5 and the forecast for 2024 is £30 million, with a growth of approximately 10 per cent per annum.
As a leading provider of materials development, testing and assurance, its work in science and technology is pioneering and innovative, covering areas including space operations, aerospace, nuclear energy, healthcare, defence, hydrogen and battery power.
Lucideon employs 248 people in the UK and USA and its work requires top-flight expertise in science, technology and engineering – reflected in the high graduate employment ratio.
More than 55 per cent of employees hold a university degree and 20 members of staff have PhDs – vital, high-skilled roles for the county to create a culture of innovation. Lucideon also has a degree apprenticeship programme.
Lucideon is an innovation business. Devices in space, nuclear reactors, offshore wind turbines and batteries for Net Zero - there is a long list of technologies that are central to solving humanity’s greatest challenges. All of them require innovation in advanced materials.
Lucideon researches an array of materials (ceramics, metals, cosmetic ingredients, biochemicals, etc) and helps clients across a variety of different industries – from energy and construction to healthcare, FMCG and aerospace.
Its breadth of expertise allows for a lot of cross collaboration across teams and leads to better, faster solutions.
Lucideon has entered the Business of the Year and Innovation categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Comp Door

Business of the Year entrant

Comp Door had a start-up team of 12 when it launched in August 2021. Today it has 70 staff and has become the market-leading manufacturer of composite doors.
From a standing start, monthly revenue is growing exponentially for the Newcastle-under-Lyme-based business.
Manufacturing has already expanded into a second location nearly, with nearly all staff being recruited from within Staffordshire.
The company is committed to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and to giving back to the local community. This includes sponsoring Stone Dominoes under-12s football team and becoming a business champion and supporting partner to The Hubb Foundation,.
Comp Door says its success is built on innovation, including smart technology locking systems for doors which allow people to check, lock or unlock doors from any location.
Sustainability is another key thread. Staff are encouraged to car share or cycle to work, there are on-site recycling points for consumables and factory waste and as much production waste as possible is recycled.
Electric cars are encouraged with multiple charging points available for staff. Auto shut-off LED lighting is installed throughout the majority of the site and timber is ethically and sustainably sourced from Indonesia via FLEGT endorsed companies ensuring ethical and lawful working conditions and where tree replanting schemes are in place.
To reduce energy consumption Comp Door has purchased numerous new pieces of equipment, technologies and machinery replacing more power-hungry older versions where possible.
Comp Door has entered the Business of the Year, Growth and Innovation categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Ltd

Business of the Year entrant

Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Ltd was founded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 2018 to deliver repairs and maintenance services to all council housing in Stoke-on-Trent.
Owned by the city council but run as an independent company, it carries out repairs to more than 17,500 homes along with a portfolio of around 600 public buildings, shopping parades, garage sites and open plan land.
Unitas also provides services to some education establishments, adaptations on behalf of the City Council and in 2023 started providing repair services using a newly created trading company (UMS) to housing association Honeycomb Group.
In 2023/24 Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Ltd’s annual turnover was £ 59,227,000. It employs 472 staff, of which 76% live in Stoke-on-Trent and 87% in Staffordshire
Unitas is committed to recruiting apprentices. It has appointed 37 apprentices since 2018 including eight during 2023/24. In 2022 Unitas went the ‘extra mile’ to provide an apprenticeship placement as part of its legacy for care leavers. It also offers a one-month work experience placement for care leavers.
The company is passionate about supporting its local marketplace and is committed to building and maintaining high standards with local suppliers and sub-contractors. In 2023/24 it tendered and procured £4,943,463 of work to local sub-contractors within Stoke-on-Trent and organised a meet the buyer session for contractors to deliver tender and bid writing training to help them to tender for Unitas’ work.
Unitas raises money for local groups and charities. In 2023/24 it delivered 23 community projects and awarded 10 groups with Helping Hands fund payments. It supported Manna House, its chosen charity, with £4,941.50. It also supports local charities and community groups in the Stoke-on-Trent area by donating materials and time. It supported the Lord Mayor’s Charity Football Tournament by entering a five-a-side team of staff to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s charities; Savana, Action for Children and the Stoke-on-Trent Food Bank.
Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Ltd has entered the Business of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Trentham Foods

Business of the Year entrant

A business founded by a former butcher who started his career working in an abattoir is on track for a £34 million turnover this year.
Trentham Foods, run by father and son Daren and Jacob Durkin, began in 2006 by supplying single pallets of poultry to catering butchers and wholesalers.
It now supplies more than 200 tons of products each week to customers across the UK and has partners around the globe.
The business increased its turnover to £14 million in 2021 and more than doubled that figure by 2023. Turnover is forecast to rise to £50 million by 2026.
The growth has been achieved by reinvesting company profits, with no external financial investment. In fact founder Daren Durkin remortgaged his own home to finance the initial launch of the business.
Trentham Foods Director, and Daren’s son, Jacob Durkin said: “This financial success is even more astounding considering the business has grown by continually reinvesting company profits rather than taking external support, which will become the bedrock for its future.
“From the outset, we laid the foundation of the business with a steadfast dedication to four core principles: ensuring excellent product quality, providing first-class customer service, optimising supply chain efficiency,and upholding ethical business practices.
“From relatively humble beginnings, Trentham Foods is now a proud supplier of high-quality products to blue-chip accounts in the national foodservice sector.
“The company is BRC AA Accredited, ensuring these core principles are met throughout the entire supply chain. We guarantee that our products are responsibly farmed and ethically sourced, and they are transported using the most economical and environmentally friendly logistics.”
The team takes its collective responsibility to the local community extremely seriously. Last year Trentham Foods supported a charity ball in memory of Jacob’s mother, raising more than £9,000 for The Dougie Mac. This year they supported the event again, raising close to £11,000 for the charity C-R-Y.
Trentham Foods has entered the Business of the Year and Growth categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.


Business of the Year entrant

Within the space of three years, accountancy firm DJH has grown from 60 staff to a multidisciplinary team of 478 working across 10 offices.
The business, founded in Stoke-on-Trent, has quadrupled its turnover within the same timeframe.
DJH has entered the Business of the Year and Growth Award categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
CEO Scott Heath said: “DJH are an award-winning chartered accountancy firm, proud to provide exceptional service to our clients. We don’t just work for businesses - we work with them to achieve great things together.
“We’ve seen strong organic growth through maximising client accounts through our specialist service lines, the conversion of new business and the completion of several corporate finance transactions.
“Our aim is to have a people-first approach and create a great place to work. In delivering this goal, we will create the perfect environment for our team to deliver for our clients.”
DJH is passionate about recruiting at grass roots and bringing in trainees from local schools, colleges and universities then developing them through its ranks with comprehensive apprenticeship programmes. It’s a top 15 Apprenticeship Employer and ranked 14th in the country.
So far, across nine offices, £226,077 has been invested in training courses and apprentices receive college days and paid study time within their package. This investment has seen more than 100 exam passes and 10 promotions in 12 months.
In 2023 the firm welcomed 26 trainees, its biggest ever single intake. It also announced two new academies for AAT and ACA studiers - Launch Academy and Accelerate Academy. These have been designed to help them develop crucial knowledge and skills they can use within the workplace and everyday life and to nurture development opportunities as they begin their accountancy journey.

Fifteen Group

Business of the Year entrant

A Stoke-on-Trent technology company has broken through the £5 million turnover mark for the first time and has ambitious plans to double its turnover to £10 million in five years.
Fifteen Group, based on Park Hall Business Village, is also celebrating a milestone 18th birthday this year and is investing £500,000 in new premises.
Founded in 2006, the company specialises in IT, communications, software development and fire and security systems and started out with just four staff. It now employs a team of 50 with plans to recruit further.
Under the leadership of its four directors, Ian Walker, Mark Adams, Rob Adams and Martin Graham, the company has also continued to secure further big-name clients.
Fifteen Group already provides IT, communications, telecoms, fire and security/intruder alarms, as well as digital signage and digital menu boards to a number of huge international retail brands including Costa, Taco Bell, Dunkin and KFC.
The company is relocating to bigger premises in Hanley later this year. The move coincides with the launch of their new digital signage brand, Signatech Group. It focusses on the manufacture, content management and supply of digital signage screens across the world with full support also offered from its Staffordshire base.
Director Ian Walker said: “We pride ourselves on our customer focussed approach. We offer a range of services and products but understand the franchises we work with all have different requirements and we shape our services around them to ensure they get exactly what they needed to the highest of standards.
“Our continued and sustained growth is not only down to that approach but also down to the hard work and dedication of our team whose skills and expertise are second to none.
“The last 12 months have been fantastic for us – to have our highest turnover in the year we celebrate our 18th birthday is a great achievement. We’ve had some brilliant client wins and are looking to strengthen our market position with the retail sector to help us grow further.”
Ian added: “Our main focus now is to continue on an upwards trajectory and to achieve a £10 million turnover within the next five years. It’s an exciting time for Fifteen Group – we are adding to our client base all the time, widening our geographical reach and are looking forward to moving into new premises later this year. It will be a brand-new start for us and I am sure will be a catalyst for further growth in the future.”
As Fifteen Group continues to grow, it is keen to give back to the community. Staff regularly hold fundraising events for charities including the Douglas Macmillan Hospice. They are also working closely with Port Vale and the Street Soccer Foundation to help launch and sponsor the Port Vale Street Soccer Academy which will start in the autumn.
Fifteen Group has entered the Business of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Reliance Medical Ltd

Business of the Year entrant

The UK’s leading trade supplier and manufacturer of first aid and medical supplies, Reliance Medical grew its turnover by more than £10m to £30million in 2023 and it’s on target for a £50million turnover by 2025.
The Talke-based company has expanded globally over the past 12 months including opening an office and warehouse in Sydney, Australia and a European distribution base in Hungary.
Pre-hospital trauma has been a key area of investment including the development of a new range featuring bleed control products and heavy duty, tactical first aid bags for emergency medical professionals, police and the military. It has created new jobs in this area, investing in a UK factory to solely focus on the development of a new life saving product range.
The company is proud to support international humanitarian efforts – last year it manufactured and supplied more than 50,000 specialist personal issue first aid kits to support those caught up in the conflict in Ukraine.
Reliance is committed to increasing the speed of access and effectiveness of Automatic External Defibrillators. Last year it broke world records by providing 20,000 AEDs to public places in the UK. This year it is launching a revolutionary AED cabinet that can automatically heat or cool the AED to ensure its optimum operating temperature whatever the weather or climate.
In 2022 the company launched Aura3, an industry first flagship range of 100% recycled and recyclable first aid kit boxes as part of a strategy to reduce and eventually remove virgin plastics from products. It has continued this environmentally friendly direction with the development of Titan, a rugged, fully-recycled/recyclable workplace first aid kit box. It is estimated that Titan and Aura3 will save a combined equivalent of more than six million plastic bottles each year.
Single use plastics are also being removed from its kit boxes and packaging and replaced with sustainable paper wrap. By 2025 none of its first aid consumables will be packaged in plastic.
Thomas Pear, Managing Director Reliance Medical Ltd, said: “Reliance Medical Ltd is a world-leading manufacturer and trade distributor of the highest quality surgical dressings, healthcare products, medical equipment and first aid supplies.
“Last year we were immensely proud to be shortlisted along with two other local companies in the Staffordshire University Business Awards in the Growth and Business of the Year categories.
“Since last year's awards, Reliance has expanded into new markets, product categories and territories. We are delighted to take part again in 2024.”
Reliance Medical has entered the Business of the Year, Growth and Innovation categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Browns Distribution

Business of the Year entrant

Browns Distribution launched in 1955 with a single van to transport Staffordshire pottery. Now the third-generation, family-owned company has 132 employees, 60 trucks, 115 trailers and an annual turnover of more than £20 million.
In 2023 the company invested £9 million in a new headquarters and distribution centre in Stoke-on-Trent and a further £2.2 million on enhancing its haulage fleet.
Today Browns serves some of the largest companies in the UK and its international reach extends to more than 30 European countries.
An eCommerce division, PalletOnline, addresses a market need for business-to-consumer pallet delivery across the UK and Europe and established the company as a key player in eCommerce logistics.
Browns is also a shareholder of Palletline, the UK’s leading palletised distribution network.
David Brown Jnr, the Managing Director of Browns Distribution, said: “Since our relocation to Distribution House we've been on a mission to elevate our service and brand to new heights. With unparalleled service levels, extensive network coverage and a talented team dedicated to delivering great customer experiences, Browns lead the way in a hugely competitive region for logistics, demonstrated by consistent year-on-year growth.
“Our pride in serving Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire remains strong and our long-standing partnerships with some of the biggest and most exciting businesses our county has to offer is an integral part of our success.
“Browns is growing but our dedication to customer relationships and outstanding service will always remain at the core of our strategy.”
The company’s turnover grew from £14.1 million in 2020/2021 to £20.2 million in 2022/2023 despite pressures caused by Brexit, the pandemic and a national shortage of HGV drivers.
Browns is committed to sustainability and decarbonisation. Its new HQ and distribution centre is solar-powered and should reach net zero building emissions within the next few years.
The warehouse has a fleet of fully electric forklift trucks which reduced the use of heavy fossil fuels on site by 100% and reduced overall warehouse energy usage by 50% over 12 months.
Driver welfare is key for the company and includes industry-leading rates of pay, training and discounted gym membership. Since 2020, driving staff pay rates have increased by more than 34% for Class 1 drivers and more than 23% for Class 2 drivers. The aim is to reward existing drivers, attract new talent to the sector and establish Browns as an employer of choice in the county.
Browns Distribution has entered the Business of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Therser UK

Business of the Year entrant

Already the UK’s largest kiln and furnace manufacturing company, Therser UK has now established itself as the country’s leading manufacturer of hydrogen kilns - a testament to its commitment to innovation and sustainable industrial practices.
The Burslem-based company was founded in 2009 and has a multi-million-pound turnover which it has a strategy to increase year-on-year for the next three years.
It manufactures industrial kilns, furnaces and dryers and is increasingly working on sustainably powered kilns.
A Therser spokesman said: “Our advanced technology in kiln design and production sets us apart, highlighting a significant shift towards environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
“Therser UK’s expertise in hydrogen kiln technology not only reflects our leadership in the field but also aligns with the growing global emphasis on reducing carbon emissions in industrial operations.
“Our pioneering work in this area underscores the UK’s role in advancing green manufacturing technologies.”
The company’s management team has more than 150 years of accumulative experience in the thermal sector and deliberately chose to site the business in the very heart of the UK’s ceramics industry.
In addition to manufacturing new kilns and furnaces for customers Therser repairs, refurbishes and relocates specialist equipment. Its staff have relocated complete factories as well as individual industrial machinery units.
Therser UK has entered the Business of the Year and Innovation Award categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

© Copyright 2023 Staffordshire University Business Awards