The best of Oldham business light up the QE Hall

Reporter: Simon Smedley
Date published: 11 May 2018

All pictures by Darren Robinson

Glitz and glamour were the order of the day at the completely sold-out tenth anniversary 2018 Oldham Business Awards ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

All tickets - 56 tables were full - had been snapped up well in advance as the local business community came together to salute the very best of Oldham enterprise.

Steve Kilroy, OBA steering committee chair, said: "You don't realise just how diverse the Oldham business community is until nights like this. It's fantastic.

"Businesses in Oldham continue to go from strength to strength, and that's not just throughout the UK, it's worldwide too.

"It's been a brilliant celebration, but 2019 will be even bigger and better."

Judging panels, which include representatives of the category sponsors, reviewed all this year’s business award entries at the start of the year before shortlisting three finalists for each of the 11 categories.

Channings Childcare triumphed in the 'Supporting Young People' category.

Owner of the business Kathryn Hoggard - Channings runs six nurseries based in and around the Oldham area - told the Chronicle: "We deliberately entered this category because my managers do so much with the younger members of staff.

"We take young people on and hopefully make them into valued meembers of staff, and some go on to become future managers.

"Janine, who has been sat next to me, was an apprentice, and now she's a manager.

"It's the first time we've been nominated for an award, so of course we're all delighted."

On a glittering night, the 'Young Business of the Year' award went to Dream Big Sports. while in the 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year' category, Eric Bishyika took home the big prize.

Hollinwood-based fashion star Eric (above), who has run SW Clothing Co since 2010, said: "I was always detemined to set up my own clothing brand, mainly becasue I wanted something personal to me.

"The business started off as something simple, and I didn't get the best feedback from friends at first, but we soon turned it around.

"I realised that starting a business locally was crucial, and from there we've all grown with the brand, the products we well and the audience we're aiming at.

"It's mindblowing to have won the award again. I've defended my title from last year so that's really good and a real pleasure to triumph on the big stage.

"We've not got the largest business out there, but I think the work ethic I've always shown has won us this award."

Log on to: to check out Eric and SW Clothing's latest exciting range of clothing.

The 'Community Engagement' award went to Safeguard Fusion, while the prestige title of 'Employer of the Year' went the way of the town centre-based Oldham Chiropractic Clinic.

Assure Certification took home the 'Start-Up Business of the Year' prize, while the 'Business Person of the Year' was Ansar Ali, who set up Featherstall Road-based dsgnuk in 2008 with Kabir Ahmed.

An emotional Ansar said: "Back in 2002 we use to drive to Salford University and talk about one day opening our own design business in Oldham.

"We wanted to do something different; something that wasn't done before in our community.

"It was only an idea and we never thought we would manage it let alone win an award!"

The 'Business of the Year' (up to £1m turnover) went to Remedian IT Solutions, while the £1-5m category prize wnt to the delighted team from Linda Lewis Kitchens.

That was Linda's third OBA award, having previously been triumphant in the Business Person of the Year category and having won the Supporting Young People award.

Well done to Linda and her Honeywell Lane-based team.

The over £5-10m turnover award went the way of JA Harrison and Co, while the 'Business of the Year' in the over £10m was Chadderton-based Diodes. 

A brilliant spectacle was rounded off with a special recognition award, which went to Dave Benstead, who is very familiar face on the Oldham business scene.

He is chair of the Oldham Enterprise Trust, among many other roles, and his unstinting work throughout 2017 and 2018 was rewarded as he was presented with his memento by Steve Lowe, on behalf of headline sponsor the Stoller Charitable Trust.

The full list of category winners is below.

TV impressionist Rory Bremner offered his unique brand of humour to Oldham on a brilliant evening, which culminated with an after-show party upstairs on the QE Hall balcony.

More information about the 2018 Oldham Business Awards can be found at the official website:

Congratulations to all the finalists, and roll on next year!

More Oldham Business Awards pictures will feature in the forthcoming editions of the Oldham Business Edge and Signature magazines - don't miss them.


2018 winners


Supporting Young People

Sponsor Oldham College

WINNER: Channings Childcare

Nominated: Capita Translation and Interpreting and dsgnuk


Business of the Year [>£10m]

Sponsor KPMG

WINNER: Diodes

Nominated: Oldham Motor Company and Widdop and Co


Business of the Year [£5-10m]       

Sponsor Pearsons

WINNER: J A Harrison & Co

Nominated: Gemini UPVC and Portculis Oldham


Business of the Year [£1m-£5m]   

Sponsor Asian Business Leaders

WINNER: Linda Lewis Kitchens

Nominated: Catalyst Claims and Seftons Accountants


Business of the Year [<£1m]

Sponsor Seftons Accountants    

WINNER: Remedian IT Solutions

Nominated: Cornerstone Design & Marketing and Future Safety


Business Person of the Year

Sponsor Oldham Athletic Football Club

WINNER: Ansar Ali – dsgnuk

Nominated: Frank Rothwell - Manchester Cabins, and Maria Williams - Upturn


Employer of the Year    

Sponsor Ultimate Products

WINNER: Oldham Chiropractic Clinic

Nominated: Cornerstone Design & Marketing, and Diodes


Start Up

Sponsor Business Growth Hub

WINNER: Assure Certification

Nominated: The Secret Sip


Young Entrepreneur      

Sponsor Oldham Enterprise Trust

WINNER: Eric Bashyika - SW Clothing Co

Nominated: Hayley Smith - Simply Skin, and Jannatul Choudhury – Muzzini


Young Business

Sponsor Reward Finance

WINNER: Dream Big Sports

Nominated: Corner House Cakes and Old School Barbecue


Community Engagement

Sponsor Unity Partnership

WINNER: Safeguard Fusion

Nominated: Blue Tiffin Restaurant and Dale Bathrooms