Jerome and Jim take top gongs as Newry celebrates its business best
TWO of the city's best known ambassadors were given special honours at the Greater Newry Area Business Awards in front of more than 530 guests in the Canal Court Hotel.
New York-based Jim Clerkin, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America, who over a 40-year career has worked for many prominent companies in the wine and spirits industry, claimed the Greater Newry Diaspora Award.
And the coveted Outstanding Contribution to Newry accolade went to Co Cavan-born Jerome Mullen, who was described on the night as "the most prolific and energetic septuagenarian in the entire region of Greater Newry".
The business awards, organised by Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade, celebrated the very best the Greater Newry Area business community has to offer, profiling the exceptionally high standard of business leadership, ambition, entrepreneurship and innovativeness which has become synonymous with the region.
The biennial initiative attracted more than 300 entries, and a record 23 awards were handed out on a night of pizzazz and celebration, hosted by BBC journalist Mark Simpson.
"We are delighted with the success of this high profile event, which underlines that our local businesses are continuing to innovate, invest in products and improve levels of customer service," said Newry Chamber president Michael McKeown.
He extended the Chamber's thanks to principal sponsors Newry Mourne & Down District Council, Bank of Ireland UK and Flogas Natural Gas, together with the sponsors of the various individual awards categories for their support and commitment.
Those three headline sponsors - represented on the night by Roisin Mulgrew, Geraldine O'Hagan and Paul Crosbie respectively - said they were delighted to support and endorse such a prestigious event which rubber-stamped how businesses in the Greater Newry area are delivering an exceptional standard of service across a diverse range of sectors.
Among the many highlights of the night was the standing ovation accorded to Jerome Mullen, the only Newry businessman to have received exalted civilian honours from two different European States.
He cut his teeth in business as a shoe shop manager in London in the 1960s before coming to Newry to run coal distribution firm O'Rourke's on the Albert Basin.
In 1985, following the banning of coal fires by the Clean Air Acts, he identified a business opportunity in the greening of the environment and, with his wife Margaret, developed the first generation of paper compactors used extensively by shopping centres and major retailers to deal with disposal of the bulk packaging (which he sold to NEC in 2007).
A founder member of the SDLP and later election agent for the late Eddie McGrady, he also established the successful social enterprise Clanrye Group, of which he has been chairman for more than 25 years.
In 2001 he helped create the Newry Chamber Christmas Charity lunch which has raised more than £1.2 million for children and local charities. He is still an active member and guiding light (and past president) of the Chamber, the third largest in Northern Ireland.
Since 2008 he has been Consul of Poland, working on behalf of the 30,000 Poles living in Northern Ireland, and last October the President of Poland awarded him the Gold Medal of Poland, the highest civilian honour and rarely given to a non-Polish citizen. He has also been given a separate honour from Pope Benedict.
Greater Newry Area Business Awards - 2017 winners
:: Best Social Enterprise Award (sponsored by Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency) – Southern Area Hospice
:: Best Pub Award (sponsored by Q Radio) – The Bridge Bar, Newry
:: Best Green Business Award (sponsored by Canal Court Hotel & Spa) – Deli Lites Ireland
:: Best Tourism Award (sponsored by Ryco Marketing) – Leitrim Hill Bed & Breakfast
:: Best Use of Social Media Award (sponsored by Newry Junior Chamber) – McCooey's Newry
:: Best Customer Service Award: Multiple Retailer (sponsored by The Quays Shopping & Leisure) – Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
:: Best Marketing Initiative Award (sponsored by Newry Democrat) – Buttercrane Shopping Centre
:: Best Innovative Business Award (sponsored by First Derivatives) – BlueZone Technologies
:: Best Export Business Award (sponsored by Norbrook Laboratories) – Re-Gen Waste Ltd
:: Best Young Entrepreneur Award (sponsored by O'Hare & McGovern) – Cathal Grant and James Cunningham (joint winners)
:: Best New Business Award (sponsored by Damolly Developments) – BlueZone Technologies
:: Best Customer Service Award: Independent Retailer (sponsored by Newry BID) – Jack Murphy Jewellers Newry
:: Best Place to Eat Award: Restaurant & Bistro (sponsored by Autoline Insurance Group) – Old Mill Restaurant
:: Best Place to Eat Award: Cafe & Tea Room (sponsored by Autoline Insurance Group) – Shelbourne Home Bakery & Restaurant
:: Best Place to Work Award (sponsored by The Irish News) – PKF-FPM Accountants Ltd
:: Best Small Business Award (sponsored by Translink) – Smet Building Products Limited
:: Best Business Growth Award (sponsored by Southern Regional College) – Around Noon
:: Best Customer Service Award: Service Sector (sponsored by Boots Ireland) – Shelbourne Home Bakery & Restaurant
:: Best Family Business Award (sponsored by First Trust Bank) – The McAllister Group
:: Best Use of Technology Award (sponsored by BT) – Specsavers Newry
:: Greater Newry Diaspora Award (sponsored by UK Export Finance) – Jim Clerkin
:: Outstanding Contribution to Greater Newry Award (sponsored by Buttercrane Shopping Centre) – Jerome Mullen