Friday, 22 February 2013

Gemma Lighting named ‘Overall Business of the Year’

Growing LED lighting specialists Gemma Lighting are celebrating after receiving five awards and being named ‘Overall Business of the Year’ at the Portsmouth News Business Excellence Awards on Friday.

LED Lighting Manufacturers Portsmouth Business of the Year
Steve Reid/Blitz Photography
The glittering ceremony, in association with BAE Systems, was held at the Portsmouth Guildhall and Gemma were honoured with the top prize of the night, being named by the judging panel as ‘Overall Business of the Year’.

It was a fantastic evening for the UK-based LED lighting manufacturers, who were winners or runners-up in every category for which they entered into.

As well as taking the top award for overall company of the year, Gemma also scooped the ‘Innovation of the Year’ prize in recognition of their innovative solar LED Street Lighting systems being exported around the world.

The fantastic evening was hosted by broadcaster Fred Dinenage MBE, and highlighted the true success stories of businesses in the Portsmouth region.

Before the trophies were handed out, the Portsmouth News editor Mark Waldron spoke about the many stories of triumph and inspiration from all the nominees present, and told of how difficult the judging decisions were with so many achievements on display.

His speech was followed by a fine three-course meal and entertainment from Manic Stage Productions, a nominee themselves in the Team of the Year category.

LED Lighting Manufacturers Sales Director Mark Major with Fred Dinenage MBE
Gemma Lighting Sales Director Mark Major with host Fred Dinenage - Blitz Photography
Mr Dinenage then summed up the last twelve months in the business world with his Review of the Year before the announcements got underway with the Retailer, Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure award.

Local landmark the Spinnaker Tower were named as runners-up in this category after helping Portsmouth win Best UK City in the Group Leisure Awards in 2012, whilst bridal store Creatiques received Highly Commended after recording a 62% increase in dress sales.

The first award of the night however went to All About Tea - the Southsea-based tea emporium that has seen a boom in business in the last part of 2012 and now sells all over the world.

The shortlist for the hotly-contested Apprentice of the Year award started with 700 applicants - giving the judging panel a headache to reduce to just the 17 candidates that made it through to the nominees list on the night.

James Bengree of McAndrew Martin received a Highly Recommended achievement, and Thomas Howard was named runner-up for his work at Anglesey Hotel, but it was Holly Diaper who won the award after her colleagues at First Chapter Consultancy said she had overcome being a 'painfully shy' person.

It was at this stage of the night that Gemma Lighting first featured - with the combination of Jupiter LED Street Lights and solar power management systems working to great effect and being considered for the title of Innovation of the Year.

Highly commended in the category were Cobweb Solutions who have developed a secure way for staff to access work remotely, with property superstore group uMoove named as runners-up.

When Gemma Lighting were announced as the winners by award sponsors the University of Portsmouth the two tables featuring Gemma team members erupted with delight and, after some encouragement from the host, all took to the stage to accept the award.

LED Lighting Manufacturers Portsmouth Innovation of the Year
Steve Reid/Blitz Photography

In fact, the team had barely taken their seats once again when the runner-up of the next category was announced - in the Business Personality & Achievement award.

Gemma Managing Director Craig Manuel was asked to return to the stage by Fontwell Park who sponsored the category, and received the runner-up prize for driving Gemma on to post a growth of 132% last year in the manufacturing industry which is in decline overall.

There was a brief interruption to Craig's acceptance speech - when host Fred Dinenage asked what the key to Craig's success was, Gemma Sales Director Mark Major had a modest suggestion that saw Craig double Mark's sales targets for the rest of the year...

Keith Leaning, Catering Manager at Fruitloops, was highly commended, and for his firm's work in preparing Horseguards Parade for the Queen's Birthday, Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic Games Bill McAndrew of McAndrew Martin was named the winner.

Next up was the Team of the Year prize, sponsored by PPA. Winning the award, ahead of Tiger Tiger who were highly commended and runners-up Pompey in the Community, were mystery shopper firm Douglas Stafford.

Gemma Lighting customers Portsmouth Marriott Hotel were on the list of nominees for the Community Contribution award, and were highly commended for their work, spearheaded by Lisa Bowles in a category which was eventually won by Affinion International for their work in Portsmouth schools. Property firm Malins group were runners-up.

Fresh-thinkers and driven business minds were acknowledged in the Start Up Business of the Year category, where Dynamite Recruitment were highly commended, Coconut & Chocolate were given the runners-up prize for their inventive way of creating child's play mats, and recruitment firm Carrington West took the prize.

LED Lighting Manufacturers Portsmouth Gemma Lighting team
The Gemma Lighting team before the ceremony - Helen Tinner Photography
With their heads still spinning from two trips onto the stage, the Gemma Lighting team held their breath as the next category was Exporter of the Year. Having seen major exports to Dubai and the Falkland Islands in 2012 Gemma had a strong year for export orders and this was reflected by their inclusion on the shortlist for this award.

Although their name was indeed read out once more, it was to be for the runners-up prize in the category, meaning another trophy for Gemma Lighting and an award win for marine safety firm Daniamant.

With the ceremony coming to the closing stages the awards for both Small/Medium Business of the Year and Large Business of the Year were still to be decided.

Gemma Lighting were on the shortlist for Small/Medium which was up first. Highly commended were Fedden USP, a firm which uses lean business training to ensure companies are running as efficiently as possible, and Gemma Lighting were named runners-up for their fourth trophy of the night.

As Gemma received the award from Councillor Rob Wood of Portsmouth City Council the team could reflect with great pride of their night's work - having won or come runners-up in every category for which they were entered into.

Communications experts Twisted Pair took the SMB prize and in the Large Business category Gemma Lighting customers Portsmouth Marriott were Highly Commended, Aerial Business Communications named runners-up, and STS Defence named winners.

LED Lighting Manufacturers named Portsmouth Business of the Year
Gemma Lighting are announced as Overall Business of the Year - Blitz Photography
The Gemma Lighting team took a deep breath in - completely unaware that the awards were not over as this was the first time Gemma had ever taken part in the Business Excellence Awards.

Little did they know that all winners from the eight group categories are entered into the biggest prize of the evening, the Overall Business of the Year.

Stunned and pleasantly surprised at even being amongst the nominations for this prize, Gemma were then flabbergasted when it was announced by Brian Johnson of BAE Systems that they had won.

Mr Johnson had been on the judging panel for all the award categories, and said of Gemma Lighting: "The firm is innovative, it is exporting, it is expanding, and all while manufacturing is in decline. We just felt that because Gemma had done so well in each of the categories they were far and away the business which we felt ticked every box."

Managing Director Craig Manuel described the award as 'great for UK manufacturing', saying: "We want to thank our staff, our shareholders for standing by us and our customers. It's brilliant to be recognised."

And Sales Director Mark Major spoke of his pride at winning the award, and said: "We are ecstatic about picking up these awards – there were a few of us there to accept the award but in fact the whole team at Gemma worked towards this moment and deserve recognition because they’ve been fantastic."

Gemma Lighting and the other award winners from the evening will now be entered into the regional business awards in Brighton in the Autumn.

The awards come at a great time of expansion and development for Gemma Lighting, who have already broken their annual sales figures from the previous trading year, again recording growth figures in the double digits.

Gemma Lighting Limited was established to create an innovative concept for environmentally friendly lighting requirements. Drawing on vast experience of LED Technology since 2003, the team at Gemma Lighting have been designing, developing and manufacturing a new generation of LED lighting solutions for numerous applications, both indoors and out.

From a UK manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, Gemma Lighting’s products incorporate the very latest in power efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED) technology and organisations such as British Gas, the Marriott Hotel group and BAA have benefited from Gemma’s high quality products and customer service alike.

For more reaction to the awards see our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Awards Summary:
Winner – Overall Portsmouth Company of the year
Winner - Innovation of the year
Runner-up - Achievement of the year
Runner-up - Exporter of the year
Runner-up - Small / Medium Business of the year


  1. A first rate company - well deserved.

    Exports, job creation, first class English Manufacturing. Keep it up team.

  2. Thank you Ian - congratulations should go to all the team for sure, a great effort and a great night!

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