29 Jul 2011

Opinion: Why there’s good news from our European business elite

By Philip Forrest, Chairman of Judges, European Business Awards

The process to reach the Ruban d’Honneur stage of The European Business Awards 2011 has again been marked both by the quality of the entries in all categories and by the excellent quality of the actual applications forms upon which all applicants and especially those for whom English is not their first business language are to be congratulated.

Entries across the ten open categories were received from 30 countries in the EU. It has to be understood that the sample that is made up from the full entry is atypical in that all the organisations that enter are good businesses and therefore the Ruban d’Honneur recipients, the top ten in each category, are companies that are achieving very high levels of performance in the category of their selection.

Viewing their performance against the backdrop of the general economic climate in Europe it is possible to form the view that if all businesses in Europe were like the sample that is this year’s finalists it would paint a very optimistic picture for the future of European business.

However the web of interdependence that the EU has become is likely to continue to be a hazard to big and small companies alike and ready to ensnare those less wary and professional than the organisations under who have qualified here.

One of the key observations in the 2010 awards Ruban d’Honneur recipients was the fact that the revenue and profit lines of the majority of organisation suffered a real decline in their 2008/2009 results but that almost all were predicting a bounce back in the year now under review.

It is encouraging to observe that the forecast improvement in performance has been delivered generally across the piece with another optimistic outlook  for the trading period ahead. 

The reasons for this appear to be that the best performing organisations have not only reacted very quickly to the economic challenges, and made the strategic and operational changes required equally rapidly and repositioned their market proposition to the prevailing market conditions better. But also in their sector or specialism, they have made serious contributions to the economic growth of their country whether that be by improving their export performance, thereby making a contribution to the national balance of trade, achieving excellent and sustainable rates of growth by using innovation to develop new opportunities for employment and market development and being nimble, bold and energetic in pursuing the most viable opportunities all of which are the hallmarks of clear, decisive leadership.

All countries managed to achieve Ruban d’Honneur recipients with the two leading countries with Germany and Turkey leading the way followed by the UK, Italy, Poland, France and Spain.

Turkey is worthy of special mention both in the overall quality of their entire entry and of their Ruban D’Honneur recipients among whom are some truly excellent businesses. It is also important to note that the entries from the “new” EU markets show huge promise in their innovation, ambition to expand within and beyond their domestic economies and show real promise for the future commercial success of those countries.

All categories have very strong competitors and this year’s winners will  have to be truly outstanding organisations. The categories that attracted most applications and will be attract the fiercest competition are: -

Customer Focus Perhaps because the economic climate has increased awareness of the fact that customers are the key and only source of revenue for every organisation.

- Innovation One of the three underlying criteria of the awards, because this is a time when new ideas may create an important competitive edge.

- Environmental and Corporate Responsibility This category has been rising in importance over the past few years and is perhaps a reflection of the increasing sensitivity of customers to not only what their suppliers do but also the way they behave.

All sectors are well represented with Pharmaceutical and Medical science among the top achievers along with Manufacturing, IT and Telecoms and all showing that in an uncertain climate  European business has a great deal to showcase to the rest of the world and from whom every organisation can draw pride and inspiration.

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