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Two Kingussie businesses shine at Highlands awards ceremony

By Calum MacLeod

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Iona Malcolm is presented with her award
Iona Malcolm is presented with her award

Businesses in the Highlands have much to be proud of, this year’s Highland Business Awards (HBA) lunch heard.

The annual event returned to the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, to celebrate the achievements of businesses across the Highland region.

Kingussie’s Grassroots Garden Shop was named most promising new business of the year, much to the admitted surprise of business owner Iona Malcolm (pictured right).

"I’m stunned – I didn’t think we would have a chance," she admitted, before going on to thank her family, friends and the community who had supported Grassroots since it opened.

"We couldn’t have done it without you," she added.

The award for the Cairngorm business of the year was collected by distillery company Speyside Distillers based on the outskirts of Kingussie.

This is the second year in succession that the company has won the award and chief executive John MacDonough commented: "We are delighted to be here again. Thank you for supporting us to allow us to support the Highlands.

Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce which organises the awards ceremony as part of its annual Highland Business Week, said that being shortlisted for any of the dozen categories was a remarkable and noteworthy achievement.

After pointing out that being shortlisted had nothing to do with being a member of Inverness Chamber of Commerce or geographical location, he also noted that this year had seen a great geographical spread of winners.

He stated: "We’ve been stunned by the quality of each and every shortlisted company and each and every winner. We have a lot to be proud of in the Highlands."

The event included a final official public appearance from Eden Court chief executive Colin Marr, who left his post at the Inverness theatre the previous day ahead of a move to Edinburgh to take charge of the Playhouse Theatre.

Mr Marr, who was also chairman of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, was named business leader of the year and used his acceptance speech to stress the importance of Eden Court to the business community.

"Eden Court is massively important to the business environment in the Highlands," he said.

"This year we estimate that our economic impact was over £10 million. A lot of that is going to hotels and bars and so on, as you would expect, but it’s a £6 million turnover organisation, so there’s also a massive supply chain there.

"We also do a lot of work with some of the least privileged young people in the Highlands. We help them turn their lives around and if we don’t do that intervention, some of them will become a burden to society. We play a part in stopping that."

The overall award for Highland Business of the Year went to aquaculture giant Marine Harvest, which had already been named HBA exporter of the year after seeing seafood exports from its 46 Scottish fish farms increase by 150 per cent over the last year.

Collecting that award, chief operating officer Ben Hadfield acknowledged the Scottish branch of the global company had enjoyed a very good year.

"There was a month when the amount we made even surprised me – and I’m a capitalist," he joked,

When he returned to collect the business of the year award, he commented: "Obviously we weren’t expecting to win this, or I wouldn’t have prepared the ground so badly with the capitalist remark."

He went on to add that Marine Harvest was a successful but humble company and thanks the judges for the award, assuring the audience that the Highlands remained central to what the company did.

All the winners lined up at the awards
All the winners lined up at the awards

Highland Business Awards 2017: selected finalists and winners

Outstanding Performing Small Business

Black Isle Renewables Ltd

Cruise Loch Ness Ltd

Fishbox Ltd

Winner: Fishbox Ltd

Outstanding Performing Business (25+ employees)

Equiom (Scotland)

Gael Force Group

Innes & Mackay Solicitors and Estate Agents

Winner: Gael Force Group

Most Promising New Business

Grassroots Garden Shop

Inverness Kart Raceway Ltd

Loch Ness Spirits

Winner: Grassroots Garden Shop

Best Family Business

Gows Lybster Ltd

Loch Ness Spirits

Williamson Foodservice

Winner: Gows Lybster Ltd

Best Social Enterprise

Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company


The Shieling Project Community Interest Company

Winner: The Shieling Project Community Interest Company

Exporter of the Year

Made in Scotland

Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd

Speyside Distillers Co Ltd

Winner: Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd

Cairngorm Business of the Year

G2 Outdoor Ltd

Speyside Distillers Co Ltd

Winner: Speyside Distillers Co Ltd

Business Leader of the Year

Colin Marr – Eden Court Theatre & Cinema

David Siegel – HighNet Telecoms

Willie Watt – Subsea 7 / Wick Harbour Authority

Winner: Colin Marr – Eden Court Theatre & Cinema

Highland Business of the Year

Winner: Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd

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