The cream of the Belfast business world was rewarded at the hotly contested Belfast Business Awards last night – with honours going to Bill Wolsey as `Belfast Champion`, Ten Square Hotel as `Best City Hotel` and the Titanic Quarter as `Best Regeneration Project` in the city among the winners.


21 awards were presented to businesses across the city at the special gala ceremony in the City Hall, organised by Belfast City Council in partnership with Belfast City Centre Management. Victoria Square was the principal sponsor of the awards this year.


The awards were hosted by BBC`s Sarah Travers and Mark Simpson with local man, Greg Maguire, who has worked in Hollywood films’ Avatar, Harry Potter and Happy Feet, the guest speaker at the ceremony.


Translink scooped two awards in the honours for `Best Corporate Social responsibility Business` and `Best Green Business`. The Cloth Ear was crowned `Best Bar/Pub’; Barista Coffee House in Ballyhackamore – the `Best Cafe/Coffee Shop` Award and SHU on the Lisburn Road – the `Best Restaurant` in Belfast.


Sainsbury’s came out tops for the `Customer Service Excellence- Multiple Retailer Award` and `The Beauty Company`was named `Best Independent Retailer`.


Delegate Recruitment won the award for `Best New Business`; Garvan Traynor Jewellery took the `Best Creative Business` Award while James Neill Flourmill won the `Best Manufacturing Business Award`. Jeremy Baird from Managemint scooped the award for `Best Young Business Person`.


The  `Best International Trade` accolade was shared between Andor Technology which is based in west Belfast and Bubble NI in east Belfast. While Barclay Communications and Seopa were the joint winners of the `Best Business Expansion Award`.


Ashton Community Trust in north Belfast won the `Best Social Economy Business Award` and chartered accountants’ Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, based in Clarendon Dock, were rewarded the `Customer Service Excellence- Professional Services Sector Award`.


The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s was presented with the `Embracing the Belfast Brand` Award;  the Ulster Orchestra scooped the coveted award for `Best Marketing Initiative` and Awakin got the top award for `Best Innovative Use of IT`.


Bill Wolsey, owner of the Merchant Hotel and a long list of pubs across Belfast and Northern Ireland, was crowned `Belfast Champion`.


Judges praised the hotelier and entrepreneur for his “outstanding contribution to the regeneration of the city”.


“Bill Wolsey is the face behind the Cathedral Quarter – the Merchant Hotel is now an internationally renowned hotel,” they said. “We are all the beneficiaries of his contribution to the social level of the city. He has put Belfast on the world stage!”


Belfast City Council`s Director of Development, John McGrillen, said: “The Belfast Business Awards recognise, reward and celebrate those businesses who strive for excellence whether by looking to new markets, developing new products, demonstrating excellence in service standards or investing in innovative marketing strategies.


“The awards also send out a strong message that businesses in Belfast are energised, positive and united in their determination to address economic challenges. The awards not only allow companies to stand back and measure how well they are performing. They also help act as a barometer for how the city is reacting to the growing challenge to become a more competitive city, characterised by a productive, highly skilled business community providing opportunities for all.


“I want to commend all the winners, runners-up and entrants for taking part in the awards this year which are without doubt among the highlights of the city’s social calendar.”


Hugh Black, Centre Manager at Victoria Square, the event headline sponsors, said: “The Belfast Business Awards recognise and celebrate the success of the many local businesses in Belfast which have worked through one of the most difficult economic periods in the last twenty years.


“Each entry represents the great attitude which local business leaders possess.  It is businesses such as these which will ensure Belfast and Northern Ireland continues to create jobs and produce great results for the local economy.”


Belfast City Council would like to thank all the sponsors for their support with the Belfast Business Awards: – Victoria Square (Best Champion Award), The Errigle Inn (Best New Business Award); Leaf Consultancy (Best Innovative Use of IT Award); Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau (Embracing the Belfast Brand Award); Social Economy Network (Best Social Economy Business Award); University of Ulster (Best Young Person of the Year Award); Ortus (Best Manufacturing Business Award); Invest Northern Ireland (Best Creative Business Award); Ramada Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge (Customer Service Excellence – Multiple Retailer Award);  Firmus Energy (Best Bar or Pub Award); Miller Hospitality (Best City Hotel Award); Stakeholder (Best Marketing Initiative); Mabbett & Associates Ltd (Best Green Business); Profile Publishing and Event Management (Customer Service Excellence – Professional Service Sector); Connswater JV (Best Regeneration Project); Westfield CastleCourt Belfast (Best Business Expansion);  Northern Ireland Tourist Board (Best Restaurant).


To view the full list of the winners and for further information on the awards, go to the Belfast Business Awards website<>