THE finalists for the Large Business of the Year Award in line with the Winchester Business Excellence Awards have been announced.

Holiday Inn Winchester, Charters Estate Agents, Lakesmere Ltd and Upham Brewery Company have all been selected by award sponsor Wilkins Kennedy.

Audit Director, Jon Noble, said: “The entries for this new award were of the highest quality. The entrants were from a diverse range of businesses but all had performed exceptionally in difficult times. Creating a shortlist was not easy.”

Since it opened four years ago, the Holiday Inn Winchester has seen substantial growth in employment and revenue.

Strong marketing strategies have led to an increase in turnover by 8.7 per cent from 2012 to 2013 – a 14 per cent profit for the same period.

Key strategies in the business plan are to grow revenue, average rate and occupancy each year, reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint and provide and be recognised for outstanding customer service.

Innovation is key for the hotel, which uses iPads instead of wine lists, and online booking systems for the restaurant.

Established in 2009, Charters is now the market leading estate agency in Winchester, with a recent survey showing a 39 per cent market share out of 22 competitor firms.

The firm was recognised as the third best in Southern England at the Estate Agency Awards in 2010 and 2011, and in 2013 they opened branches in Alton and Alresford.

They now employ 40 staff after starting with only three five years ago.

The business plan ensures Charters performs across four key areas; finance, operations, marketing and human resources, all of which are supported by market leading systems.

Lakesmere Ltd has become the UK’s leading specialist contractor, with seven offices across the country and its head office based in Winchester.

It offers a complete design, manufacturing, installation and management service across the full external building envelope, and is currently installing their largest order to date – an $80 million (£478 million) roofing contract on the new International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Their turnover for the financial year ending January 2014 reached £82 million, an increase of 46 per cent on the previous year, and their presence in the Middle East is ever-expanding.

Set up in 2009, The Upham Brewery Company has ambitious plans for the future, and is set to open between 20 and 30 new pubs by the end of 2015, and create up to 500 jobs.

In the year from May 2013 the demand for their bottled beer increased by 350 per cent, and the company has invested in local establishments to create successful businesses, including The Running Horse in Littleton.

They will be investing £280,000 to increase brewing capacity from 1,000 casks to 5,000 over the next three years, and have gone public with their plans to expand and increase their staff to 600 by 2018.