Spinach takes overall prize as Southwark celebrates the best of business

Spinach takes overall prize as Southwark celebrates the best of business

Independent restaurant Spinach was crowned Southwark’s Business of the Year at a glittering gala awards ceremony on June 21.

More than 450 guests from the business community celebrated at the inaugural Southwark Business Excellence Awards, in association with Lewisham Southwark College, at the Hilton Bankside hotel.

Hosted by financial journalist Sally Bundock, the sold-out event was the climax of the prestigious awards and celebrated the successes and achievements of Southwark’s vibrant business sector.

Opening the evening, Councillor Kieron Williams of Southwark Council, said: “It’s fantastic to have this celebration of business in our borough.

“Southwark has some of the world’s best businesses, from small independents to global brands, and they are fundamental to the success of the borough, helping to bring economic prosperity and jobs.”

His words were echoed by Peter Mantell of Southwark Chamber of Commerce who said the energy and commitment on show from all the finalists was testament to the driving ambition that would continue to take Southwark forward.

East Dulwich restaurant Spinach was chosen from 14 categories to take the overall accolade at the prestigious awards having also collected the award for Best Business for Hospitality and Food Excellence.

The small independent eatery, which serves a vegetable-inspired menu that changes with the seasons, was praised by the judges for its exceptional customer service, community commitment and its desire to be different from mainstream chains.

An emotional Melissa Harwood, who runs the restaurant, said: “I don’t know what to say. A lot of work has gone into Spinach and it’s a challenge to do it all by yourself and this is amazing.”

Hop Burns & Black picked up two awards for Independent Retailer of the Year and the Best Business for Customer Service.

The specialist bottle shop and tasting room, based in Peckham Rye, has plans to launch a second branch in Deptford this summer.

Co-owner Jen Ferguson said: “Our ambition when we started was to create a community hub and be part of the community where we live and work and now we’ve won an award for it.”

Glenn Williams added: “Since we started three and a half years ago, it’s become more of a competitive industry so the big level of customer service is really important to be able to give people a different offering.”

Other big winners on the night were international technical recruitment firm VHR, which was named Best Employer, with managing director Danny Brooks also awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year.

Collecting the awards on behalf of the company, Ian Preddy, Divisional Director of Recruitment Operations, said being recognised as Southwark’s best employer was a fantastic endorsement of the business and its investment in its employees.

“Having an award like this is really important to the business and the business would not be what it is without its employees.”

Vanessa Packham, of Lewisham Southwark College, headline sponsors of the awards, said the college had been honoured to be involved in the inaugural awards.

“We have been so impressed with the quality of applications and business stories which sit alongside these and of course all those subsequently shortlisted and awarded.

“The College sees itself as a key part of the community in Southwark, since a further education college has been based in The Cut for several decades now and is one of the reasons we chose to support the Business Excellence Awards in this vibrant borough as the headline sponsor. We appreciate the potential business benefits and recognition these awards can bring to businesses and are already looking forward to the 2019 awards….once we’ve finished celebrating the winners of this year!!”

More than £4,000 was raised on the night in aid of the Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Catherine Rose’s charities, Dulwich Hamlet Aspire Football Academy and The Family and Childcare Trust, as well as Southwark Giving.

Guests enjoyed a drinks reception, sponsored by Great Portland Estates, with gin from Bermondsey’s Jensen’s Gin. And there was also entertainment from Soulful Sounds, magicians Kane and Abel and The Supreme Collective, as well as a charity casino at the after party, sponsored by Costain Group.

Backed by Headline Partner, Lewisham Southwark College, and Awards Partners, Southwark Chamber of Commerce, Southwark Council and White Label Creative, the awards are sponsored by British Land, CIT Group, ENGIE, Grosvenor, UAL London College of Communications, Landsec, Lendlease, Greystar, South Bank Central, Network Rail, Cowell Consulting Group plus Great Portland Estates, Costain Group and Sellar. The programme is supported by Shangri-La Hotel, Jensen’s Gin and Media Partner, Southwark News.

Full details of all the winners, highly commendeds and commendeds are available here.