FoundOcean is UK private business of the year

Published at 15:46 PM on 11 September 2014

Winners of 2014 UK Private Business Awards (The Diamonds) revealed #PBA14

Want to start a successful business? Choose something you like and have fun. That was the message from Sir Stuart Rose, guest speaker at the annual UK Private Business Awards (The Diamonds) sponsored by PwC, in association with HSBC Private Bank and Numis, held at the Guildhall, London last night.

The M&S veteran combines his Chairmanship of Ocado with involvement in three start-ups and two mid-tier enterprises.

“I’ve come to the entrepreneurial private business sector late in my career, but now I’m here I’m loving it. There’s no substitute for the thrill of working with such passionately committed people. Private businesses are faster-moving, more innovative and take more risks. They have to be.”

Finishing with a twelve point checklist for success Sir Stuart Rose said:

“Don’t focus solely on making money and never underestimate the importance of having fun at work. If you’re having fun and you’re good at what you do, money will follow.”

Disrupters, innovators and exporters dominated the UK Private Business Awards and

Subsea grouting firm, FoundOcean Group, was named Private Business of the Year. The company has grouted more than 600 offshore energy projects since its foundation in 1966. Its revenue growth impressed the judges, soaring almost 800% between 2010 and 2013. FoundOcean has recently opened new offices in Houston and Dubai and recently made a major contribution to the raising of the Costa Concordia, designing and constructing a 20,000 tonne artificial seabed of over 1,500 grout bags, onto which the wreck was rolled.

LIFESAVER Systems is Social Enterprise Business of the Year. LIFESAVER was founded in 2007 by Michael Pritchard with a global humanitarian mission – to end water poverty. LIFESAVER has pioneered an innovative nano-filtration technology that removes bacteria, parasites, viruses and cysts; instantly transforming dirty water into sterile drinking water without the need for chemicals, power or UV light.

Peer-to-peer lender Zopa picked up their Diamond for Venture Capital backed Business of the Year. In the nine years since raising money from Benchmark Capital (now Balderton) and Wellington Partners, Zopa has grown fast, lending over half a billion pounds in the last 12 months alone.

Stephanie Hyde, PwC head of Regions, said:

“This year’s nominated companies showcase the rich diversity of private businesses from every corner of the UK and we're proud to be associated with the entrepreneurs and innovators powering their local communities and the wider economy.”

Kirit Patel was named CEO of the Year. The pharmacy chain and pharmaceutical distribution boss of Day Lewis Plc oversees an organisation with over £200 million annual sales, employing 1,800 people. Some 38 years ago, Kirit bought his first two shops on the same day. He now oversees 220 pharmacies, but still manages to visit each one annually.

Charlie Hoffman, Managing Director, HSBC Private Bank (UK) Ltd, said:

"Private Business is a powerful engine of the UK economy, driving growth, employment, wealth creation and prosperity. As the only national awards in the UK entirely focussed on private business, it’s fitting that we recognise the long-term vision and ethos shared by many private enterprises of building something better for future generations.

"This year's entrants clearly demonstrated a global mindset. One shortlisted business had over 99% of sales generated outside the UK, and another exported to 180 countries, which, incidentally, leaves only 18 to go."

Private Business Woman of the Year was Julie Kenny of Secure Holdings Ltd. Julie founded the company in 1986 with £28,500 equity from the sale of her home and went on to develop the world’s smallest passive infra-red detector. The company now has a turnover of £18m. She works hard in a number of external roles to open others’ eyes to the possibilities of business.

The Knowledge Academy was joint winner of Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Husband and wife team Dilshad and Barinder Hothi identified a gap in the market at the bottom of the downturn and their rapidly growing business now provides IT and project management training services in over 158 countries, operating though 12 subsidiaries.

Joint winners in this category were twin brothers Richard and Anthony Joseph, of Joseph Joseph – innovative makers of glass chopping boards and one of the fastest growing names in the worldwide homeware market. They say the healthy the competitiveness they have with each other has helped drive the business forward.

The Genuine Gemstone Company was named International Business of the Year. This innovative gem and media business facets gems in its own facility in India, sets them in gold and silver designs, then sells them via various internet sites and its own 24-hour TV channels. The rapidly growing business now operates in 21 markets, including the US where it has ambitions for strong growth.

Family Business of the Year was won by The Entertainer Ltd. Husband and wife team Gary and Catherine Grant opened their first toyshop in Amersham in 1981 and have since grown to become the UK’s biggest independent toy retailer with over 90 stores today. Their two eldest children are on the board and they ascribe much of their success to the right culture and values.

High Growth Business of the Year is Reading-based professional services outfit, Huntswood. A combination of market conditions, restructuring the management team at the right time and diversifying the client base to cover all sectors of financial services have helped the firm’s revenues increase almost five fold since 2010.

Etienne Bottari, Head of Corporate Finance at Numis, said:

“The quality and diversity of the nominations for this year’s Private Business Awards again confirm the UK’s deep reservoir of entrepreneurial spirit and drive to create and develop innovative, high growth and socially responsible businesses.

“The success of these businesses is fundamental to sustainable economic prosperity and deserving of the recognition and support of all stakeholders in the UK economy.”

Finally, another subsea specialist, Viper Subsea, was awarded a Diamond for Technology Innovation of the Year. Established in 2007 with £45,000 of initial working capital, the company has continually invested in R&D (R&D is currently 20% of revenue) which has resulted in 14 patent filings and a range of products now being delivered to the global subsea oil and gas industry.

Notes to editors:

For more news on the private business awards go to, follow @PBA_Awards  Hash tag: #PBA14

Listed on AIM and with offices in London and New York, Numis has grown to become one of the UK's leading independent institutional stockbrokers and corporate advisors. We are recognised as being one of the leading providers of capital for UK listed companies. Relentless in the pursuit of success for our clients, we are acknowledged for the quality of our people and our focus on providing old fashioned client service and advice, set in a modern context.

HSBC Private Bank
HSBC Private Bank seeks to be the leading international private bank for business owners and their families. It provides clients with wealth, business and family succession solutions in the largest and fastest growing markets around the world. HSBC Private Bank is the marketing name for the
private banking business conducted by the principal private banking subsidiaries of the HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

The HSBC Group
HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from over 6,200 offices in 74 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,754bn at 30 June 2014, the HSBC Group is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.


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Andrew Smith
PwC | Communications
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At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details. © 2016 PwC. All rights reserved

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