The finalists in the Investing in Future Growth category at the Norfolk Business Awards 2018

PUBLISHED: 11:59 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:33 17 October 2018

The Norfolk Business Awards 2018 will be held at the Norfolk Showground Arena on November 22. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography.

The Norfolk Business Awards 2018 will be held at the Norfolk Showground Arena on November 22. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography.

Copyright 2017

Introducing the finalists in the Investing in Future Growth category of the Norfolk Business Awards 2018, sponsored by JDC Corporate Finance – and what our judges thought of them.

• David Utting Engineering

David Utting Engineering is a family-owned and run business based at Goldsmith Street, Norwich employing 30 engineers and technicians including five apprentices. The company is the sole manufacturer of SmartShop: the world’s only self-contained, fully-equipped and mobile vehicle spray booth and repair shop. Launched in 2014 as a complete solution to smart repairs for the automotive industry, 180 units are currently on hire to car manufacturers, vehicle dealerships and film production companies across the UK.

Judges’ comments: A Norwich family business since 1924, David Utting Engineering has transformed its business in the last five years through the launch of a worldwide patented innovation that has seen turnover increase from £1.3m to over £3m in four years with a similar impressive impact on profit. SmartShop, the world’s only self contained, fully equipped and mobile spray booth and repair shop sold on a rental basis is now used in 180 sites across the UK. Clients include Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren, and high-end dealerships from Mercedes, BMW, Audi and is even used by Pinewood film studios for set and prop work. The company demonstrated a clear strategy to grow both domestically and internationally and also a firm commitment to using local Norfolk suppliers and a strong commitment to local staffing, including apprentices.

• Panel Graphic

Panel Graphic manufactures and supplies enhancement plastics aiding the readability of digital information displays across a wide range of products and industries; from domestic appliances to car interiors and large format airport information displays. Founded in 1998, the business employs a fully trained team of 42 staff at purpose-built premises in Loddon. It has recently applied for a Queen’s Award for both Innovation and International Trade.

Judges’ comments: Loddon based Panel Graphic specialises in the supply of high quality plastic parts. Since its launch 20 years ago the business has grown to become the biggest optical plastic display manufacturer in Europe. This is reflected in the client list for its highly specialised plastics, especially non-reflective, scratch-proof plastics, winning contracts with Bentley, McLaren and Porsche to name a few. The company demonstrated a long term vision of investment both in facilities, R&D and people, with strong turnover and profit growth forecast to exceed the impressive figures already achieved.

• Gnaw Chocolate

Necessity is the mother of invention: when Matt and Teri Legon couldn’t source quality chocolate for their sweet shop, they decided to make their own. In 2011, they embarked on a cocoa-dusted mission to bring the excitement back into premium chocolate. All of Gnaw’s artisan chocolate is carefully handcrafted in their Gnawfolk kitchens with locally-sourced ingredients, natural flavours and no added nasties. The very best ingredients are hand-mixed together with a whole load of love and a big warm hug of Gnaw playful fun.

Judges’ comments: The Gnaw chocolate brand was launched in 2011 by UEA graduate Matt Legon who saw a gap in the market for artisan chocolate manufactured in the UK. Since launching, the business has seen impressive growth driven by a strong investment in ongoing R&D, equipment and employment to continue the growth in sales. The business has recently enjoyed triple annual growth rates driven mainly through exporting, 80% of sales are now overseas, exporting chocolate bars to over 20 countries with six new territories launched this year. This includes a seven figure deal in Russia for new brand Brooke and Amble. The judges were impressed with the commitment to its programme of continuous development and investment as well as its strong and building export success.

• Black Swan International

Black Swan International owns and operates 19 care homes across East Anglia. It purchased its first care home in 1994 and has grown by focusing on the acquisition and turnaround of poorly performing services with significant compliance problems. Balancing a need to be profitable and controlling costs within an emotive industry such as healthcare is challenging. However, by maintaining a personal approach Black Swan International has managed to provide high standards of care within all 19 homes and maintained full compliance with the regulator the Care Quality Commission. In recent years, it has grown significantly, increasing turnover from £9m at year-end 2016 to more than £16m projected by year-end 2018.

Judges’ comments: The group has grown by acquiring poorly performing services with significant compliance problems and turning them into high performing homes. It owns the only “Outstanding” rated care home without nursing among four other “Outstanding” rated homes. To deliver this the group has significantly invested in their homes and facilities and also in their staff and training to deliver the best possible care to their residents. This has been reflected in a strong growth in both revenue and profit for the group and a clear strategy to further grow while delivering the highest possible levels of care.

MORE: Revealed: The finalists for the Norfolk Business Awards 2018

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press