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Winners announced at Solent 250 ranking awards

The winners of the 2024 Solent 250 awards
The winners of the 2024 Solent 250 awards
19 June 2024
The winners of the 2024 Solent 250 awards

The tenth annual Solent 250 Awards celebrated the achievements of the top privately-owned businesses (by turnover) headquartered in the Solent region.

CEO of The Business Magazine Richard Thompson said: "This year, Solent 250 businesses employed over 51,000 people and contributed significantly to the UK economy."

The Solent 250 listing is compiled by The Business Magazine and sponsored by BDB Pitmans, CMA Recruitment Group, Evelyn PartnersHSBC UKUniversity of Southampton Business School and Vail Williams. Richard thanked the sponsors for "their participation and enthusiasm."

Judging in the International Business of the Year category was so difficult that an additional Emerging British Brand award was added. And the quality of finalists in the Employer of the Year category was so high that joint winners were announced.

An inaugural Outstanding Contribution to the Solent Region Award was given this year. Computing solutions provider Captec scooped the accolade.

The event was held at the Harbour Hotel Southampton and the evening’s guest speaker was Stu Baker, Managing Director of Maritime UK Solent and Executive Director of the Solent Cluster.

He also emphasised the region's significance to the UK economy, much of it linked to the maritime sector.

Maritime UK Solent champions the region's success worldwide. It has strong links with the government and the Solent LEP. "Our role is in building a community to support economic growth. Economic clusters focus on what makes an area strong," he said. "It's an aggregation of its assets – the people, infrastructure, businesses, research and knowledge that can come together to give it a competitive advantage. We have a massive array of assets in the Solent region."

The Solent Cluster focuses specifically on the low-carbon economy. Its task is to bring businesses together to attract investment and share knowledge in the journey to net zero.

"The Solent Cluster has five or six anchor projects that could involve 70,000 jobs, with around 19,000 of them new jobs. One example is a hydrogen production project to generate blue hydrogen with carbon capture and storage capability in the region," Stu explained.

And the winners are...

Growth Story of the Year – sponsored by CMA Recruitment

Winner: Peters & May Group

“We have a fairly new management team that has brought the entire executive team from around the globe closer together. This is a big change from how the business used to run. Growth has also been about the accumulation of lots of small things, like better communication and integration between offices, resource sharing and respecting staff. We have guaranteed everybody a pay rise in line with inflation within the next three years which has helped productivity to go up. We have a solid foundation to grow even more but we also need to be careful we don't grow too quickly and are solid in our approach. Our next big growth sector is in the US.” Simon Judson, CEO, Peters & May Group


• Amiri Construction  

• CLC Group  

• PHL (Partnering Health) 

• C&O Tractors 

Leadership Team of the Year – sponsored by Evelyn Partners

Winner: 23.5 Degrees

“One of our main focuses is internal development and growth from within. The only way you are going to create spirited entrepreneurship in a business is by starting from the bottom. We also pay attention to continually evolving how our Starbucks franchise stores look – the decor and imagery bring the brand alive. As leaders, it’s important we involve everyone in how the business is growing, as well as encourage their passion for coffee and customer service, so they understand our vision and feel they are part of it.” Maureen Sandbach, People Director, Andrew Pickett, Property Director, 23.5 Degrees


• Barfoots of Botley  

• Draper Tools 

• Innovation Group  

• J&B Hopkins 

International Business of the Year – sponsored by HSBC UK

Winner: R&M Electrical

“Almost half our revenue comes from international-related activities, a 20% increase on the previous year and we are looking for a similar increase this year as well. Just over 100 of our 250 staff are based in the Solent region and a lot of our business is in the marine industry. The ExxonMobil refinery here was our first entry into the oil and gas sector. Future expansion also includes the nuclear and defence sectors.” Kevin Daglish, Commercial Director, R&M Electrical

Emerging British Brand of the Year – sponsored by HSBC UK

Winner: Gozney Group

“We make pizza ovens and it is a big worldwide market. It’s not just pizzas you can cook in them, but all kinds of meat and bread. Germany is one of our largest markets and we are also growing our business in the US. We have been able to get into some of the largest retailers out there, including Home Depot, and that’s seen us grow our brand and sales. An investment from Growth Partner UK has significantly helped us to tool up for newer products that we are launching. Our location in the Solent by the sea is great for the brand as well.” Jenny Barnard, Financial Controller, Gozney Group

Finalists in both the above two categories:

• Captec  

• Dextra Group  

• Gozney Group  

• LeMieux 

• Platinum Components 

Employer of the Year – sponsored by the University of Southampton Business School

Joint winner: Elliotts

“We have been around for over 180 years and take a long-term view about everything we do, including how we look after our people. They are core to our success, we reward them and aim to make them feel part of the family here. It is also the little things that make a difference, like payday pizzas and hampers at Christmas. In terms of employee empowerment, we give everyone a mandate to do what they have to do to give customers an amazing service.” Tom Elliott, CEO, Elliotts

Joint winner: STR Group

“We’re a recruitment company in a competitive market and you have to be innovative in your approach to stand out. We invited all our staff to contribute to our Solent 250 Award entry and they were completely transparent about our working environment, so winning is really down to them. Empowerment is important to us and as we are quite a structured business we can ensure each person knows where they are at any particular point in their career journey. They have the freedom to make decisions at their level in the organisation and we encourage them to be comfortable and confident about giving and receiving feedback.” Clive Hutchings, Founder, STR Group


• Carrington West  

• Ocean Automotive  

• STR Group 

• U-Drive 

Climate & Sustainability Award – sponsored by Vail Williams

Winner: Silverlake Automotive Recycling

“We run a reverse production line for dismantling end-of-life vehicles that helps us to remove more parts and do it on a production line basis. We are currently applying for planning permission to extend our existing recycling facility and workshop to support this. It will help us to develop a wider scope for recycling and to focus on parts that we know we can sell. The business has been developing since 1946 and these plans are part of our blueprint for the future.” Paul Fleming, Vehicle Depollution Manager, Silverlake Automotive Recycling


• Double H  

• Lionel Hitchen  

• Paultons Park 

• VES 

Market Innovator of the Year – BDB Pitmans

Winner: Lush Cosmetics

“I helped to develop our Bath Bot, a custom light, sound and colour experience for the bath. We designed the Bath Bot so we can take it apart and recycle it. As a vegan company, we didn’t use animal-based glue in its construction, as other waterproof speakers do. It is all-British engineering with proper e-waste capability – the opposite of throwing technology into the bin when you’re finished with it. It’s a very exciting product for us.” Jim Woodward, Senior Creative Technologist, Lush


• Airsys  

• Captec 

• Kortext  

• Raymond Brown Quarry Products 

• Williams Shipping 

Outstanding Contribution to the Solent Region

Winner: Captec Group

“We are very pleased to receive this award. Captec is a computing solutions provider and we have been here in the Solent region since 1985, growing organically and through acquisitions. We work collaboratively with businesses in the region and try to contribute to the local economy, for example, through mentoring schemes. Most of our workforce of around 160 are locally based. We also have operations in Canada and the US, where we plan significant growth, again through a mix of organic and acquisitions. It’s been a good year for us as we received a King’s Award for International Trade that we can add to our two Queen’s Awards.” Max Toti, CEO, Captec


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