Local Businesses Honoured At NI’s First Sustainability Awards

Ruth Kimbley, Communications Director, Strategic Power Connect (headline sponsor) presents the Sustainability Company of the Year Award 2023 to the team from Wrightbus. Pictured are Brian Roche, Kerrie-Anne Jones, Brenda Buckley (Business Eye), John McLeister, Ruth Kimbley (Strategic Power Connect) & Dr Andy Harris, Wrightbus.

Ballymena bus manufacturing group Wrightbus and Fermanagh’s The Boatyard Distillery were the headline winners at the inaugural Business Eye Sustainability Awards in association with Strategic Power Connect.

The first ever sustainability awards aimed at the local business sector took place on Thursday evening (23rd February) at the Culloden Estate & Spa, with more than 320 guests in attendance.

Wrightbus and The Boatyard Distillery picked up the Sustainable Company of the Year titles in the larger and smaller business categories, while Ian Henry, a director of Magherafelt-based building company Henry Brothers was named as the Sustainability Business Leader of the Year.

The gala awards evening, hosted by the BBC’s Mark Simpson, saw awards being presented across a line-up of 12 different categories.

The Royal Maternity Hospital complex in Belfast won the Built Environment Project award for the GRAHAM-BAM Partnership while Musgrave Northern Ireland was recognised as the Sustainable Retail Business of the Year.

Coca-Cola HBC, based outside Lisburn, took the top award in the Sustainable Food & Drink Company category while the innovative Salthouse Hotel in Ballycastle came out on top amongst the Tourism & Hospitality contenders.

Meanwhile, concrete product makers Tobermore won the Sustainable Manufacturing Business of the Year title while Translink took the top prize in the Sustainable Project of the Year category for its zero emission bus programme.

“We felt that it was time to recognise the achievements of Northern Ireland companies when it comes to making their businesses sustainable, and we were really impressed by the quantity and quality of the entries these awards received,” says Richard Buckley of Business Eye.

“We were able to showcase some of those entries this evening, as well as honour the very best of local companies across a wide variety of sectors.”

The awards judging panel included Steven Agnew, Director of RenewableNI, and Professor John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy at Queen’s University, Belfast.

“Sustainability is no longer a buzz word, and it’s much greater than energy.  It’s a business issue, it’s a society issue, it’s a you, me and everybody issue. “says Paul Carson of Strategic Power Projects.

“We were so proud to headline sponsor these awards and would like to congratulate each and every one of the winners and indeed all those who entered.

“It fills me with a great optimism to see NI companies taking great steps to make their businesses more sustainable.  We’ve been so incredibly impressed by the innovation embraced to safeguard not only their organisations, but our futures.

“There was a great honesty and wholesomeness about the award winning applications, that’s what made them stand out.  It was clear sustainable practices wasn’t just a box ticking exercise, but embraced in their professional lives and for some, their personal lives also.

“The businesses and innovations celebrated by these awards are precisely what society needs to see right now, and I look forward to seeing what the entrants bring to the table next year.”

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FinTrU & Feargal McCormack Honoured At 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards

FinTrU & Feargal McCormack Honoured At 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards

Belfast and Derry/Londonderry-based FinTrU has won the coveted Company of the Year Award at the 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards for the second year running.

The fast-growing financial services software company recently announced a new base in Portugal and has been widely praised for the measures it has introduced to help its employees through the current cost of living crisis.

The 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards, covering 19 different categories, were awarded at a black-tie event attended by almost 600 guests held at ICC, Belfast.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Feargal McCormack, the founder of FPM Chartered Accountants, former President of Chartered Accountants Ireland and an active spokesperson for the business community in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Business Personality of the Year Award went to Judith Totten MBE, founder and Chief Executive of working capital finance specialists Upstream, and a board member at Invest Northern Ireland.

Amongst the other key winners announced on the night included retailers Lidl Northern Ireland as Employer of the Year and pharmaceuticals giant Almac Group as Manufacturer of the Year. Ballymena-based Wrightbus picked up the Green/Sustainable Company of the Year Award for their low and no emission range of buses while a brand-new Diversity & Inclusion Award went to Antrim-based high-tech manufacturers, Sensata Technologies.

“We were delighted with a record-breaking entry for this year’s awards, despite the economic challenges which businesses are facing in the present climate,” said Richard Buckley, Editor of Business Eye. “The awards reflect the resilience and continued commitment of Northern Ireland companies and their leadership teams to innovate and continue to succeed whatever the economic climate.”

AIB, a key supporter of the Northern Ireland business community, is a long-standing partner of Business Eye and its award programmes. Congratulating this year’s finalists and winners, Brian Gillan, Head of Retail & NI at AIB said; “The AIB Business Eye Awards are a fantastic showcase of local business leaders and innovators who are continuing to drive best-practice and inspire others. The competition grows from strength to strength every year and we offer our congratulations to all those shortlisted as well as to the overall winners. Your hard work, determination and resilience encourages others to embrace these qualities and contributes to the success of our local business community as a whole.”

Full List of Winners AIB Business Eye Awards 2022

Homegrown Business of the Year

Highly Commended:


Innovative Business of the Year

Artemis Technologies

Employer of the Year

Highly Commended:
Seating Matters

LIDL Northern Ireland

Tourism & Hospitality Company of the Year

Winners (x2):
Galgorm Collection
Marine Hotel Ballycastle

Outstanding Management & Leadership

Highly Commended:
Barbara McKiernan, Van Rath

Louise Skeath, SDG



Executive Support Professional of the Year

Joelene Poole, Retail NI

CSR/Community Award

Highly Commended:
Musgrave NI

Hagan Homes

Diversity & Inclusion Award

Sensata Technologies

Medium/Mid-sized Business of the Year

Highly Commended:
Foods Connected

Barclay Communications

Green/Sustainable Company of the Year

Highly Commended:
Fraser Millar Homes


Young Business Personality of the Year

Laura Haldane, Scileads

Fast Growth Business of the Year

Highly Commended:

Maine Surface Finishing

Professional Services Firm of the Year

Highly Commended:
Pinnacle Growth Group
Cavanagh Kelly


Manufacturer of the Year

Highly Commended:
AG Paving & Building Products
TBC Conversions

Almac Group

Small Business of the Year

Highly Commended:
Industry Training Services (ITS)


Business Personality of the Year

Highly Commended:
Terry Moore, Outsource Solutions

Judith Totten, Upstream 

Company of the Year

Highly Commended:
Version 1
Almac Group


Lifetime Achievement Award

Feargal McCormick

Business Eye Sustainability Awards Launched

The Business Eye Sustainability Awards, in association with Strategic Power Connect, are due to take place for the first time at the Culloden Estate & Spa on the evening of Thursday, 23rd February, 2023.

Local businesses, and business leaders, will be able to enter a comprehensive range of 13 categories, including awards aimed at sectors such as food & drink, hospitality & tourism, manufacturing and retail. 

Top of the bill on the evening will be the announcement of Northern Ireland’s Sustainable Company Of The Year and Business Leader of the Year.

The awards were launched at PwC’s Merchant Square building in Belfast city centre, one of the most advanced office buildings anywhere on the island in terms of its environmentally friendly and sustainable features and facilities.

Keynote sponsors of the new Business Eye Sustainability Awards are Strategic Power Connect, one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of renewable energy solutions to large energy users.

The new awards are being launched and organised by the team at Business Eye, the driving force behind the annual AIB Business Eye Awards and the new Business Eye Family Business Awards.

“We hear so much today about how local businesses are reinventing how they do business to reflect the onus on each and every one of us to make our contribution to a more sustainable environment. Local companies are working hard to make a difference and we felt it was time to recognise those efforts and those achievements,” says Richard Buckley, Editor of Business Eye.

“We’ve had a really high level of interest so far and we’re really looking forward to seeing the entries coming through from local organisations over the coming months.”

Paul Carson, Managing Director, Strategic Power Connect said, 

“We are delighted to be the keynote sponsor of the first sustainability awards in Northern Ireland.  Strategic Power Connect are committed to supporting businesses in the north and south of Ireland, achieve their sustainability goals through renewable energy systems and solutions.

Partnering with Business Eye to recognise the best performing businesses in Northern Ireland is a perfect fit for us.  I believe the event will be the highlight of the 2023 NI event calendar and I look forward to reviewing the entries alongside other members of the judging panel.”

NI’s leading business awards launched with three new categories

Brenda Buckley, Commercial Director, Business Eye and Brian Gillan, Head of Retail & NI, are pictured at the launch of the 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards at ICC Belfast. 

AIB Business Eye Awards 2022 open for entries

Northern Ireland’s leading business awards, the annual AIB Business Eye Awards, have been launched for their 16th year at a networking event in Belfast.

Richard Buckley, Editor of Business Eye and Brian Gillan, Head of Retail & NI at AIB, hosted the launch event at the Belfast Waterfront Hall which was attended by category sponsors and business guests. Lidl Northern Ireland Regional Director Conor Boyle, winner of last year’s ‘Retail Company of the Year’ award, also addressed the event.

Three new categories have been added to this year’s awards line-up, recognising the evolving attributes of successful businesses in Northern Ireland. New titles include the ‘Green/Sustainable Company of the Year’, the ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ award and ‘Homegrown Business of the Year’.

Headline awards include the coveted ‘Company of the Year’, ‘Business Personality of the Year’ and Lifetime Achievement’ awards. With 19 trophies up for grabs, the AIB Business Eye Awards recognise qualities and success across different specialist categories and sectors.

“We work very hard each year to fine tune and improve these awards and to maintain their reputation as the very best awards of their kind in Northern Ireland,” says Brenda Buckley of Business Eye. “2021 produced a record number of entries, and really high-quality entries. Despite all of the challenges facing business here, we’re confident that the bar can be raised once again this year.”

AIB, a key supporter of the Northern Ireland business community, is a long-standing partner of Business Eye and its award programmes. Speaking at the launch, Brian Gillan, Head of Retail & NI at AIB says its more important than ever to celebrate success. “The AIB Business Eye Awards are an incredible showcase of resilience, leadership and innovation and given the challenges facing our business community, it’s important that we take a step back and shine a light on the qualities that make our local business community so successful. We’re particularly proud to reveal a number of new categories this year including the ‘Green/Sustainable Company of the Year’ award which, given rising energy costs and our collective net zero ambitions, is a vital area to recognise.”

Last year’s awards showcased an impressive array of winners at a memorable awards night held at ICC Belfast venue in front of a 650-strong audience. Belfast & Derry/Londonderry based FinTrU, one of the leaders in the dynamic fintech sector in Northern Ireland, lifted the coveted ‘Company of the Year’ award, while Sam Anderson, the NI-born US-based founder of IceMos Technologies, was named ‘Business Personality of the Year’.

Other key winners included AES Global as ‘Manufacturer of the Year’, telecomms firm Barclay Communications in the ‘Family Business’ category and top law firm A&L Goodbody as the ‘Professional Services Firm of the Year’.

The closing date for entries to the 2022 AIB Business Eye Awards applications is Friday 21st October 2022, with the judging panel due to meet shortly afterwards. Companies and individuals will be able to enter no less than 19 different categories covering most aspects of the local economy and business life. The gala awards night will be hold at the ICC Belfast on Thursday 17th November 2022.

First Derivatives & MJM’s Brian McConville Honoured

First Derivatives, the Newry-based fintech giants employing 2,400 people worldwide, took the coveted Company of the Year title at last night’s AIB Business Eye Awards, while MJM Group founder Brian McConville was named as Business Personality of the Year.

A special Contribution To Business Award was presented on the evening to Julie Conlon, widow of First Derivatives founder Brian Conlon, who passed away in July of this year.

The awards, now in their 14th year,, were presented at a glittering ceremony attended by a 750-strong business audience at ICC Belfast last night (Thursday, 28th November). Sponsored by AIB, the awards honoured companies and business leaders across 19 different categories, rewarding growth, innovation and commitment to CSR, the environment and people development.

Brian McConville was chosen by the judging panel for steering the rapid growth of the MJM Group, a global leader in the marine fit-out industry, as well as for his successful acquisition of Antrim-based Mivan.

First Derivatives, established by Brian Conlon in 1996 and now valued at £1 billion, was also named as Technology Business of the Year at last night’s awards.

Downpatrick specialist guitar makers Lowden Guitars, which supplies instruments to Ed Sheeran, Gary Lightbody and Eric Clapton amongst others, took the Family Business of the Year award, while Lisburn-based Creative Composites was named as Manufacturer of the Year.

In other awards, accountancy firm Harbinson Mulholland were the winners in the Professional Services Firm of the Year category. Meanwhile, a hotly-contested Young Business Personality of the Year title went to Gareth Deering from Denroy Plastics in Bangor.

See all the picture from the night 2019 Awards

Awards Judging Panel Meets In Belfast

The First Trust Bank Business Eye Awards judging panel met recently at The Resolution Centre on the fifth floor of The Boat building in Belfast.

The judges had to consider 140 shortlisted entries across 19 different categories before deciding on the winners and highly commended awards in each category. This year’s Awards produced a record overall entry of more than 450 across the board.

“Some of the decisions we had to make were very difficult indeed, and some really good companies and individuals will be left disappointed. But we’re confident that we’ve come up with some really excellent winners right across all of the categories, winners who will showcase what is best about Northern Ireland and its vibrant business community,” says Richard Buckley, Business Eye’s Editor and a member of the judging panel.

The panel also included Brian Gillan, Head of Business & Corporate Banking at First Trust Bank; the bank’s Head of Marketing, Michelle Corbett; Business Eye’s Brenda Buckley and Gary McDonald, Business Editor of the Irish News.

VIDEO: First Trust Bank / Business Eye Awards 2019 Launch

The First Trust Bank Business Eye Awards are the result of a long-standing partnership between Business Eye, Northern Ireland’s most popular business magazine and First Trust Bank, a key supporter of the Northern Ireland business community, has partnered Business Eye on the annual Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards for the past three years and will now sponsor the November awards, which cover all businesses – large, small and medium-sized – across the region.