Online retailer Ozaroo scoops top award at 'BEFTAs'

Adrian Moynihan, head of First Trust Bank and Brenda Buckley, commercial director at Business Eye, present the Small Business of the Year award to Connor Martin and Chris Martin from Ozaroo at the Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye

AN online retailer which has grown from a bedroom business to become a multichannel operation with a £9 million turnover has taken the top award at this year's Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards, known as the BEFTAs.

Ozaroo, set up by Chris Martin while he was studying at the Queen's University, was named Small Business of the Year at the fourth annual BEFTAs at Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, hosted by television personality Marc Mallett.

The awards, which are organised by Business Eye magazine and supported by First Trust Bank, shine a light on the north’s small business sector and recognised its top performers across 14 different categories, celebrating industry and business success as well as innovation, customer support and community contribution.

The new Family Business of the Year trophy, one of the most hotly contested in this year’s BEFTAs, was lifted by fashion retailer, McCalls of Lisburn.

There were wins for companies right across Northern Ireland with Tyrone-based Anaconda International named Manufacturing Business of the Year and Belfast-based user experience agency Fathom coming out top in the Technology Business of the Year category.

Last year's overall winning company Yelo was named Exporter of the Year in recognition of their impressive growth in new markets while Clandeboye Estate Yoghurts lifted the Agri-Food Business of the Year accolade.

A special award was also presented to 16-year-old Benn Cudworth, a GCSE pupil at Bangor Grammar School and founder of thriving online business, GamingAddicts. Benn’s hard work, innovation and dedication was recognised by the judges who awarded him with the inaugural ‘BEFTA Future Star’ trophy.

First Trust's head of business banking Seamus McGuckin said: “Northern Ireland’s small business community, which together with medium businesses and self-employed people account for more than 75 per cent of turnover across the private sector, should be immensely proud.

"If it wasn’t for their contribution, Northern Ireland as a region and as an economy would not be faring as well as it is in light of ongoing economic and political uncertainty.

"The innovation, dedication and creativity showcased by this year’s BEFTAs finalists and winners sets an example to our future business leaders and upcoming entrepreneurs and we are proud to shine a spotlight on their operations.

"While each business is different, all the winners share a number of common denominators - agility, resilience, innovation and a focus on open, honest customer service. I offer my congratulations to all the entrants and winners and look forward to seeing how their businesses develop over the coming years.”

Brenda Buckley, commercial director of Business Eye, added: “Given the number of entries received for this year’s awards and the energy and atmosphere at the ceremony, it’s clear that the BEFTAs have truly cemented themselves as a must-do in Northern Ireland’s business community.

"We received very strong entries from a wide variety of companies based right across Northern Ireland. They are very much an integral part of the business calendar here, and we’ve every reason to believe that they will go from strength to strength.”

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