Swindon bosses join the battle for Britain’s top entrepreneur award

April 27, 2015

The bosses of two major Swindon firms are to battle it out with 33 other entrepreneurs for one of the UK’s most-respected business awards.

Jason Bannister, founder and managing director of Oak Furniture Land, the UK’s fastest-growing furniture retailer, and Dr Richard Steeves, founder and CEO of Synergy Health, the international medical sterilisation group being taken over by a major US healthcare firm in a deal worth around $1.9bn (£1.18bn).

The pair have been shortlisted in the London and South region of the Entrepreneur Of The Year award run by international accountancy firm EY.

The contest brings together 35 businesses from a range of sectors ranging from life sciences, hospitality and leisure to technology and retail. Swindon is the only town outside London with two entrepreneurs in the running for the regional award.

Mr Bannister launched Oak Furniture Land in 2006 when he sold his first consignment of imported furniture on eBay. Often hailed as one of the UK’s clicks-to-bricks retail success stories, it has achieved year-on-year growth of 40%-plus and now has annual sales of £194m and 1,000 staff across the UK and in Swindon, where it operates a 300,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution centre.

Dr Steeves founded Synergy Health through the introduction of surgical packs to reduce the rate of HIV infection in operating theatres. Today it operates from more than 115 sites worldwide. It acquired Swindon-based sterlisation group Isotron in 2007 and later moved its head office to the town.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year regional heat will be in June with the victor going through to compete against the winners from Scotland, the North and Midlands in the UK finals in October where they will vie for the title EY UK Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015 and a chance to represent their country at a global awards ceremony in Monte Carlo in 2016.

The judges’ decision is based on a number of criteria, including entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, strategic direction, financial performance, national and global impact, and the companies’ approach to social responsibility.

Entrepreneur Of The Year Partner for London and South Dave Hales said: “Our 2015 finalists demonstrate the quality of UK business, which builds confidence and strength in the economy. The leaders of these businesses are inspiring individuals who are creating wealth and jobs through innovation, whilst acting as role models and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.

“Entrepreneur Of The Year is more than an awards programme; it provides a forum for the brightest business brains to connect and share ideas. Year after year the programme continues to draw out companies that are challenging the norm, often operating under the radar. I look forward to celebrating their achievements with them.”

Stuart Watson, UK Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader added: “We need entrepreneurs now more than ever. They have been achieving success and defying the odds in times of change and upheaval, recognising opportunities to act quickly and decisively to gain market share and traction for their ideas and innovation.

“Now in its 17th year in the UK, EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year brings together dynamic business leaders of fast growth companies who are creating growth, confidence at pace and generating positive impact in their markets at home and abroad.”


Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Swindon & Wiltshire for just £70 a month. Email info@swindon-business.net for more information.