Car parts maker Nifco UK has topped one of its strongest ever years by being named North East Company of the Year. The Eaglescliffe plastics company headed by Mike Matthews took the top trophy at a glittering final for the biggest event in the business community calendar, the North East Business Awards 2016.
The firm was watched by a record crowd of 500 of their business peers at the event at Hardwick Hall in County Durham, hosted by BBC presenters Charlie Charlton and Alfie Joey, which follows on from their win at the Teesside heat of the awards run by The Journal and its sister paper The Gazette in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce.
The win comes after a huge period of growth for the firm, which has expanded into two new facilities over the past four years, including to a maximum energy efficient building on Durham Lane, Stockton. The firm supplies major automotive manufacturers including Ford, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Renault and Vauxhall Opel and last year the firm announced the biggest single contract win in its history – £50m with Ford over five years – and has a set strategy to be a £100m business by 2018.
Nifco UK’s win came at the end of a night when winners from the regional heats – Teesside; Tyneside and Northumberland; Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside – went head to head in 11 categories on the night, while two winners were also announced in new categories.
Earlier, guests enjoyed a three-course meal and entertainment from guest speaker, the former skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams MBE. The two Trinity Mirror managing directors for the North East – Stuart Birkett, managing director of ncjMedia Ltd and Bob Cuffe, managing director of The Gazette - also gave a whistlestop reminder of some of the biggest business stories to unfurl in the North East since the last awards final, including recent events at SSI steelworks, the opening of the Hitachi Rail Europe manufacturing facility, the launch of Atom Bank and the completion of the first phase of Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter.
Mr Birkett said: “Despite a few challenges right across the region there are clear signs that confidence levels are on the up once again.
“The most recent Quarterly Economic Survey from the NECC suggests that the region has bounced back strongly from a disappointing end to 2015 with a robust performance in the first quarter of 2016.”
Mr Cuffe added: “These awards continue to be the biggest of their type in the country and are a celebration of our brilliant area and the great businesses that underpin it. It’s an absolute pleasure to recognise companies and the people who make them stand out in fiercely competitive marketplaces.”