Cambridge chocoholics win top award at business 'oscars'


Two Cambridge entrepreneurs have scooped the top accolade at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Peter Harris and Angus Thirlwell, the co-founders of Hotel Chocolat Ltd based in Royston, fought off competition from 32 of the region’s finest entrepreneurs to win the overall Ernst & Young South Region Entrepreneur Of The Year award and the ‘Business to Consumer’ category award.

The winning duo were joined on the podium by Richard Longdon of AVEVA Group Plc, based on Madingley Road in Cambridge, who was awarded the Entrepreneur Of The Year award in the ‘Quoted’ category.

Originally a corporate gifts and mail order business, Peter Harris and Angus Thirlwell have developed Hotel Chocolat into a highly successful chain of retail stores selling authentic chocolates with no artificial additives or hydrogenated fats.

Commended for their ‘innovation’ and ‘strong branding,’ the duo were described as being ‘outstanding entrepreneurs’ and the ‘embodiment of entrepreneurialism.’

Today, Hotel Chocolat has over 22 stores nationwide, with a strong international customer base and a growing membership of its chocolate Tasting Club.

Richard Longdon of AVEVA Group plc, was awarded the ‘Quoted’ Entrepreneur Of The Year award in recognition of his ‘leadership skills’ and the ‘growth of the business.’

AVEVA Group Plc is a leading supplier of 3D design and engineering software solutions to the industrial plant and ship building industries.

Since joining the organisation in 1984, Richard Longdon has privatised the company, led a MBO and managed a successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange. This success has been built on in recent years with successful organic and acquisitive growth, taking the company into the FTSE 350.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program is firmly established as the benchmark for world-class business leaders, acknowledging their contribution to the global economy and their extraordinary achievements.

Julian Jenkins, Ernst & Young’s Senior Partner in Cambridge, said: “It is fantastic to see that three of this year’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners are Cambridge based, with two of them winning the overall regional title.

“They are an inspiration to those around them and their drive and focus have not only benefited the local economy in Cambridge, but also had a positive impact on the community as a whole.

“Each year, the quality of the finalists in the program never fails to impress, and I wish the winning entrepreneurs all the success at the national final in October.”

Commenting of this year’s Entrepreneur Of The Year regional award winners, Derek Harris, the chairman of the independent judging panel and chief executive of Aston Science Park said: “This year’s candidates are truly exceptional, and the businesses which they have developed and nurtured are a credit to them.”

Continuing he said: “Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris were worthy winners of the overall South Region Entrepreneur Of The Year award. They have developed Hotel Chocolat into a strong and internationally recognised brand with clear strategic direction.”

Speaking about Richard Longdon, of AVEVA Group Plc, he said: “Richard demonstrated real innovation and impressive leadership qualities. He has built an international team to support AVEVA’s growth globally, and as a result the business is the 8th largest company of its kind in Europe.”

He concluded: “This year’s winners displayed true entrepreneurial spirit and through hard work, innovation and determination, have built incredibly successful businesses.”

The winners will now go through to the national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year finals held in London on 1 October, at The Grosvenor House Hotel, to compete with the other regional award recipients from across the UK.

This year’s Entrepreneur Of The Year judges panel were: Derek Harris, Aston Science Park; Terry Burt, 2e2 Group; Anne Duncan, Yellowfin Limited; David Lee, Tadpole Technology Plc and Asterand Plc; Scott Lloyd, Next Generation Clubs Limited; and John Saunders, Experian.

The category winners are as follows:

· Overall Entrepreneur: Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, co founders of Hotel Chocolat Ltd

· Business to Consumer Entrepreneur – Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, co founders of Hotel Chocolat Ltd

· Business Services Entrepreneur: Hilary Devey, Managing Director of Pall- Ex Holdings Ltd

· Business Products Entrepreneur: Neil Record, Chairman of NP Record Ltd

· Master Entrepreneur: Lord Phillip Harris, Chairman of Carpetright Plc

· Technology and Communications Entrepreneur: Charles Wace, CEO of TwoFour Group Ltd

· Quoted Entrepreneur: Richard Longdon, CEO of AVEVA Group Plc

· Science and Technology Entrepreneur: Edward Belgeonne, CEO of Destiny Wireless Plc

· Social Entrepreneur: Tom Henderson, Founder of The Shelterbox Trust

· Entrepreneurial Spirit: John Berkley, Chairman of The Berkeley Leisure Group

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young has been defining the world’s best business leaders through the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) awards programme for more than 20 years. The programme was founded by Ernst & Young in the US in 1986 and the programme now take place in over 40 countries across the globe, providing entrants with access to an unparalleled business network.

UK National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007 Tim Richards, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Vue Entertainment Holdings Ltd competed with the world’s best business leaders for the title of Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year, at the sixth annual awards ceremony in Monte Carlo this month. The title was won by Guy Laliberté, founder of Canada’s Cirque du Soleil.

UK Entrepreneur Of The Year operates in four regions (Scotland, the North Region, the South-Region and London) and regional award winners progress to a national final. EOY 2007 is co-sponsored by the London Stock Exchange.

The awards are endorsed by the Department of Trade and Industry, the British Chamber of Commerce, the Design Council, the Institute of Directors, the Young Presidents' Organisation and the Community Action Network.

The EOY 2007 south region judges panel is chaired by Derek Harris, chief executive of Aston Science Park.

For further information visit




For further information, please contact Adam Holden or Rosanna Lander, Ernst & Young Media Relations on: 0121 535 2128/ 2398 or 07917 000028/ 07952 351018



EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. With over 400 employees in our Cambridge and Luton offices, our teams provide a range of services to a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, life sciences, consumer products and retail, technology, real estate and construction, health, and the public sector. The broad array of companies across the East allows us to bring real, relevant and key insights to our clients.