Stephen Catlin named as EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2011

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London, 4 October 2011 – Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of international insurer Catlin Group, was named Ernst &Young UK Entrepreneur Of The Year in London last night.

Sponsored by Credit Suisse, hosted by Fiona Bruce and attended by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, the awards ceremony was held at The Park Lane Hilton Hotel. Catlin competed with 42 other business leaders from companies across the UK including Nails Inc, Adconion Media Group, The Mountain Group and Wonga.com.

Starting in 1984 with two people, £25,000 of capital and £25,000 of loans in the Lloyds of London market, under Catlin the company grew to become a global insurance player with a turnover of £2.6billion operating in 52 offices in 22 countries employing more than 1600 staff.

Premier position in sector where UK continues to lead the world

The independent judges said Catlin’s drive and vision helped put the company in a ‘premier position in a sector where the UK continues to lead the world.’ They praised Catlin’s vision for helping the company grow organically and globally through nurturing expert talent, and is now ‘considered in the industry as the one to be measured against.’

The judges praised strategic moves such as the 2006 acquisition of rival Wellington, which alongside geographic expansion, had seen growth in a period after hurricane Katrina when many insurers incurred major losses. The firm also sponsors the Catlin Arctic Survey to increase scientific knowledge of environmental changes and catastrophes.

Richard Hall, UK Entrepreneur of the Year Leader, said: “Stephen built his company in London but showed innovation and vision in exporting his brand across the globe. While traditional Lloyd’s companies had never set up operations outside of that market, Stephen recognised the competitive advantage of global expansion including the US, Asia, Europe and Canada. It is testament to his instinct that his company, while operating in a sector buffeted by recent catastrophes and disasters, is a global leader making billions and looking to further expand into China, India and Latin America.”

Catlin will now go on to compete globally with more than 50 other country finalists at the Ernst &Young World Entrepreneur of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.

Steve Varley Ernst &Young UK &Ireland Managing Partner said: “During these tough economic times, the crucial role of entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. This year’s winners and finalists are responsible for combined revenue of £7 billion and achieved 20% employment growth over the last year, despite the continuing economic challenges. It is their determination, innovation, entrepreneurship and extraordinary export success that need to be celebrated and emulated in order to create success and wider growth for the UK.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Enterprise is the lifeblood of our economy and the people represented in this competition show just how much British entrepreneurs can achieve.

In government, we are working to create an environment that helps new businesses flourish and the entrepreneurs nominated for these awards are a shining example of the business success we want this country to be known for around the world."

2011 National judging panel 

The judging is based on the criteria of entrepreneurial spirit, global impact, strategic direction, personal integrity and influence, innovation, financial performance and individual and corporate social responsibility. The Chairman of the judges is Richard Harpin, Chief Executive of Homeserve. The judging panel includes: Sherry Coutu, Non Executive Director, an angel Investor, who serves on the advisory board of Linkedin, Seedcamp and Zoopla; Mark Fairbairn, Non Executive Director, Office of Rail Regulation and formerly an Executive Director of National Grid advising a number of cleantech businesses. Andy Homer, Group Chief Executive of Towergate Partnership Co; Neil Hutchinson, Founder and Managing Director, Forward Internet Group; Steve Mogford, Chief Executive, United Utilities Group; Norman Murray, Non Executive Chairman, Petrofac Limited; Vanda Murray, Non Executive Director, Carillion plc, SIG plc, Manchester Airport Group; Alison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise London; Anthony Preston, Founder, Pets At Home; Phil Smith, CEO Cisco UK &Ireland; and David Whileman, UK Head of Growth Capital 3i plc.

The full list of UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Award recipients as follows (with judge’s comments).

  1. Business Products and services winner – Bryan Bodek of Airline Services Holdings Limited – Judges said the Manchester-airport based entrepreneur managed to be entrepreneurial in a highly regulated airline industry. He ‘spotted trends in the market place and was innovative’ through offering better services and products, such as food heating, parts and emergency critical systems. He successfully doubled turnover in two years and now operates in nine airports.
  2. Manufacturing and processing winner: Former president of NFU Scotland, Jim Walker of Argent Energy (UK) Limited pioneered large scale commercial production of sustainable biodiesel in the UK. Judges described him as “an individual who brought an innovative technology to a gap in the market.”
  3. Cleantech and renewable winner – Kevin Hard of EvoEnergy Ltd developed the company into one of the largest and most professional full service solar PV specialists in the UK. With no previous knowledge, “he started by reading books to understand supply chains building up a business starting from the company’s first installation which he did himself.”
  4. Retail and wholesale winner – David Suddens of R Griggs Group Ltd was praised by judges for turning around the struggling British Dr Martens footwear brand to become a global success story. Judges said “He saw the sales plummet and found a way to develop the business through design, and product innovation, helping revive and refresh an iconic brand.”
  5. Consumer products and services winners - Steve Oliver and Walter Gleeson of Entertainment Magpie Limited The cash for CDs, DVDs and games website has shaped a new market, with judges praising the company’s global reach, while the ‘strategic direction, innovation and personal integrity’ of the entrepreneurs is impressive. The company has also secured Alan Leighton on their board.
  6. E-Commerce and technology winner – Errol Damelin of Wonga.com – The company has transformed consumer credit by using automated technology to offer flexible and transparent loans online and via mobile. Judges praised the innovation and ‘bright technology and mathematics behind the business model’ and described Errol as a highly innovative entrepreneur creating a global impact.
  7. Emerging entrepreneur winner - Mark Pearson of Markco Media Limited – The founder of myvouchercodes has created a global web-based marketing and advertising company that operates the UK’s number one voucher and deals network. The judges described the young entrepreneur as someone who gets back up after taking knocks, and has an ‘insatiable appetite to learn, while also securing ‘the best returns on anyone entered into the competition’.
  8. Social enterprise winner – Michelle Clothier and Sam Conniff of Livity Limited – The entrepreneurs were praised by the judges for connecting teenagers and youth culture into the corporate world, including brands such as Coca Cola, through their socially responsible market agency. The company takes children with no career and works to get them jobs via ‘pop up’ training programmes. The judges said their magazine is ‘impacting several thousand children a year’, while delivering real value and connecting hard to reach people with corporations.’
  9. Outstanding Achievement award – Colin Robertson of Alexander Dennis Limited – Since taking over the reins at the Falkirk-based bus and coach manufacturer four years ago, Colin turned the company into the fastest growing business of its type in Western Europe with turnover doubling to almost £300million a year. The judges praised the entrepreneur for the way the company has differentiated its product under his leadership and his “clear strategy and adaptability”. Richard Harpin, Chairman of the Judges called it an ‘exceptional award for an exceptional talent’. He said Robertson expects for the company to be debt free in the next 12 months with a record order book.

Start Up Britain winner - Are you Ready? The StartUp Britain award, of which Ernst &Young was a founding supporter, recognised the locally-based support projects targeting regional growth and enterprise, but which have the capacity for scaling nationally. It was open to start-ups or individuals that may have had a positive social and economic impact in their region, are sustainable, and have been running for less than three years. The winner, Rotherham-based Are You Ready was founded by Carl Hopkins, who appeared on Channel Four Secret Millionaire, and creates a culture of enterprise in education, working with children aged four until 19, including training teachers to deliver enterprise through the curriculum. Judges were impressed by the fact the initiative is ‘scalable and easy to replicate in other countries’.

For further information or pictures from the event contact Jonathan Marciano on 0207 951 9456.