O2 ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS

Four innovative small businesses from across the UK have today been named as the winners in a prestigious annual national small business competition, the O2 X Awards. Despite the challenging economic climate, the O2 X Awards demonstrates the resilience of British small businesses and that great ideas will continue to thrive in these difficult times.

The winning businesses have been identified as the UK’s most innovative and exciting small businesses in the sectors of music, technology, food and fashion. The winners were announced at the national final held in new superclub Matter at The O2, London and hosted by TV presenter Holly Willoughby.

The event also recognised the small business achievements of three celebrities that have combined their fame and creativity with a determination and passion to create successful small business ventures. It follows a three month nationwide search, which has seen O2 receive hundreds of entries from small businesses across the country demonstrating that despite the prospect of recession, British entrepreneurs continue to thrive.

Cornish Sea Salt was named overall winner and O2 X Entrepreneur of the Year 2008. The first English sea salt company to start production for 125 years, the business harvests sea water directly from the ocean to produce a pure and natural culinary sea salt. It combines an age old process with modern technology to obtain the sea salt, which is sold to food manufacturers, delis, supermarkets and top chefs and restaurants. By using a process of evaporation to extract the sea salt the company has established a sustainable and energy efficient business. The award sees founder and MD Tony Fraser scoop the X Award’s £10,000 top prize.

Entrepreneurs and school friends James and Adam were awarded the O2 X Award for Music with their small business, Concert Live. The company successfully pioneered a system that allows sales of music at live concerts to be tracked, logged and entered into the UK Charts and has been responsible for up to 75% of chart single sales for some of the biggest artists and bands in the UK.

Used cooking oil refiner Proper Oils was awarded the 2008 X Award for Technology & Innovation. The company currently collects the used oil from over 800 caterers to refine into bio-diesel, with 10 per cent of profits put back into environmentally friendly products.

Former Harvey Nichols’ menswear denim buyer Sara Simmonds was awarded O2 X Award for fashion with her ethical jeans brand, Sharkah Chakra. It is the first jeans brand in the world to have been awarded with fair-trade accreditation.

In the celebrity category, chef Jamie Oliver picked up the O2 X Award for Inspiration, artist Tracy Emin was recognised with the O2 X Icon Award and fashion designer and author Pearl Lowe was awarded O2 X Celebrity Entrepreneur of the Year.

Simon Devonshire, Head of O2 SME Marketing, comments: “The calibre of entries we received in this year’s O2 X Awards bears witness to the UK’s diverse and innovative small business community. The breadth and variety of talent was truly exciting and has identified four small businesses that are really pushing back the boundaries and doing something genuinely different.”

Launched in 2003, The O2 X Awards provide a valuable platform for small businesses to highlight their achievements at a grass roots level through to national awareness. Selection criteria focus on cutting edge innovation, creative vision and a drive to succeed.

Duncan Bannatyne, entrepreneur, comments: “It’s great that the hard work, innovation and entrepreneurial talent that has made these businesses such a success is recognised through these awards.”

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