Award Categories

Take part in the Express & Star Business Awards and showcase your business 

2023 Award Categories

The Express & Star Awards acknowledge the very best people and organisations across the region.

For the selected finalists there are significant publicity benefits and real kudos for the eventual winners – this is your chance to grab a place in the spotlight.

The competition is free to enter. Any company or organisation that is based in and around the Black Country and Staffordshire region, reflecting the Express & Star circulation area, can sign up.

There are 9 categories you can choose from, some are open to just about everyone, others have certain restrictions, but all are worth a look. This year’s categories are below.

How to enter

It’s easy to take part. Simply choose the category/s you wish to enter and begin writing your entry to be in with the chance of becoming a finalist for the 2023 Express & Star Business Awards.

You can enter up to three categories but each category will need to be completed separately. In addition you can nominate in the category of Business Person of the Year.

You can view all the categories and criteria below.

Entries must be received by close of business on Friday, March 3 2023.

Award Categories

Business of the Year

Open to all sectors of business, the judges will be looking for an outstanding organization, whose track record sets them apart from the rest.


The blue riband award will go to the company with an impressive turnover that has delivered a topflight performance across every part of their business and sets the standard within their industry – the very best in the region.


Entrants will need to show strength in the following areas:


  • Commercial performance
  • Leadership and management
  • Outstanding commitment to customers
  • Innovation
  • Investment in staff
  • Commitment to the local community

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Small to Medium Sized Business

If your business employs between 11 and 200 people and is outstanding in a number of ways, this could be the category for you.

The ultimate winner is likely to be an innovative company that is looking forward to the challenges ahead.


The strengths being sought are:

  • Innovation in products/services
  • First class customer service
  • Outstanding leadership and management
  • Committed workforce
  • Coherent business plan
  • Sustainable strategy for future expansion
  • Investment in employees’ continuing professional development
  • Investment in developing the skills of young people relevant to the needs of the region’s economy

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Family Business of the Year

The judges are looking for impressive businesses that are actively owned or managed by a family and will be looking for entrants to demonstrate:


  • Profitable growth achieved in the last three years
  • How they achieve a balance between family and business
  • How they combine family heritage and boardroom agility/innovation
  • Effective leadership in pursuing market opportunities 

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Growth & Innovation Award

Businesses will need to have a minimum turnover of £5M and have achieved impressive growth over the last three years to enter. They should be able to tell an inspirational story that will encourage others and be able to motivate other companies to maximise opportunities for growth.

Judges will be looking for evidence of:


  • The development of an outstanding product or service through innovation
  • Fresh markets having been identified and a great sales plan being put in place. 
  • A commitment to exceptional service
  • A strong management team that has sustainable development plans to build on its success in the future.

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Manufacturing Champion

The eventual winner of this category will combine the best of traditional skills with new technology, while continuing to strengthen the regional economy.

All finalists will demonstrate a dedication to manufacturing excellence with particular attention paid to:

  • Quality
  • Sales performance
  • Sustainability
  • Investment in people and plant
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Environmental responsibility

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Young Business of the Year

The judges are looking for a young business, five years or less at January 31 2022, that is likely to be a strong all-rounder, already a leader in its own chosen area of expertise.


They must be able to demonstrate:


  • Effective leadership and management
  • Innovation in products, services, or processes
  • A robust marketing strategy
  • Investment in staff development
  • A tangible level of success
  • Significant growth or expansion and potential to sustain this

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Business Person of the Year

This is an individual award that singles out business owners, entrepreneurs and senior management for their leadership, contribution and for having a substantial impact on their business in the past year.

The judges will be looking for evidence of:

  • High levels of business skills and acumen
  • An imaginative and inspirational manager
  • Innovative and entrepreneurial leadership
  • Someone who has given the business a competitive advantage
  • A role model within their own business and beyond

Individuals may nominate themselves but anyone can put forward an individual for this category.

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Apprentice of the Year

This award seeks to acknowledge and celebrate an apprentice’s outstanding contributions to their workplace and exceptional progress in both their skills development and studies. 

Judges will be looking for a demonstration of hard work and commitment and outstanding commitment to their own personal development and progression through learning.  

The candidate should demonstrate inspirational qualities and be a positive role model for vocational qualifications.  

 The judges will be looking for:  

  • Commitment to learning  
  • Role model for vocational qualifications 
  • Significance of the candidate to their employer: Has the candidate made a sizeable and positive impact on their employer’s business?  
  • Understanding of the business 
  • Enthusiasm and motivation:  

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Best Marketing Campaign

Judges will be looking at businesses that have executed a successful marketing campaign to promote a product or service using offline, online, broadcast or outdoor media. They will want to understand the challenges you faced and overcame along with the resulting outcome of the campaign.  


 The judges will review entries to the award based on criteria such as: Innovation/creativity, audience considerations, the strategic process and meaningful results.  


Areas to consider that may assist your entry:   

  • Audience targeting and segmentation  
  • Campaign planning and reasons for media choices  
  • Use of effective creative across platforms  
  • Campaign timing and audience reach  
  • Data analysis & setting of campaign KPIs  
  • Performance tracking & goal conversion  
  • Campaign ROI  

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