A delicatessen from Great Bowden made it the national finals of a business competition in the capital on Tuesday.
Welton’s, of The Green, Great Bowden, was one of 15 regional finalists to reach the Local Business Accelerators (LBA) grand final awards ceremony held at the Millbank Tower in London.
The overall winner would win £10,000 and mentoring from Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden who took a break from her Strictly Come Dancing rehearsals to present the awards.
Although Welton’s didn’t win, just reaching the finals represented an impressive achievement.
The winner was York Cocoa House and The People’s Choice winner for most votes went to Go Green Systems.
The LBA national initiative, run by The Newspaper Society and the local press industry, aims to deliver a powerful boost to promising businesses across the UK.
The Harborough Mail was one of hundreds of newspapers from across the UK to invite local businesses to be part of the competition, which involved drafting an advert, making a video and taking advantage of local print media to spread the word about their business.
Welton’s won the Harborough round and went on to win the regional competition.
Nicky Ransome, owner of Welton’s, said that the impact of local advertising had meant footfall in the store had increased from 250 to 300 people per day and sales in the tea room and takeaway increased by 15 per cent.
Debbie Weidacher and Heather Falconer, representing Welton’s, attended Tuesday’s event along with business mentor Clare Elsby from Elsby & Co Chartered Accountants.
Clare said: “Getting through to the finals has been a real achievement for the local village store and taking part has really boosted their business.” Mail deputy editor Alex Blackwell said: “Welton’s did extraordinarily well to make the finals and beat off stiff competition from some big-name towns and cities.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Welton’s and to thank our local mentors, Claire Elsby from Elsby & Co, Alastair Campbell from The Ideal Marketing Company and Jason Hathaway from Edward, Hands & Lewis solicitors.”
The scheme received the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron who said: “The LBA campaign has been a huge success and its support for small businesses and entrepreneurs is making a real difference to local economies up and down the country, making sure Britain is on the rise.
“From chocolate-makers and healthcare trainers to a play-centre for kids, I continue to be impressed by the range of strong, growing businesses the scheme is helping, which is in no small part down to the crucial role of the newspapers taking part.
“Participants are seeing huge boosts to their sales and profiles, and I hope all of this year’s finalists are just as successful.”
Deborah Meaden, who led the judging panel, said: “I am thrilled to have been involved in the campaign. Once again, hundreds of fledgling businesses have witnessed first-hand the benefits of local advertising thanks to the LBA scheme. The initiative provides a shot in the arm for local newspapers, demonstrating their importance and the role they play across the country.
“The York Cocoa House is a very worthy winner and I look forward to working closely with the team to help develop the business further.”
The judging panel also comprised Helen Loveless, Mail on Sunday enterprise editor; Stephen Welton, Business Growth Fund chief executive; Robin Fieth, ICAEW executive director; Gemma Peck, BIS deputy director enterprise strategy; Al Young, St Luke’s creative director and The Newspaper Society’s communications and marketing director Lynne Anderson.
The finalists were judged on a series of criteria including the originality of the business idea, ability to fend off competition, finances and future prospects, communication skills, positive impact upon the community, and their potential to benefit from local newspaper advertising.
Story by Alex Blackwell
Follow Alex on Twitter, @BlackwellHarb.