Invest ESSEX shines a light on visionary local businesses

Invest ESSEX shines a light on visionary local businesses

BUOYED by his attendance at the recent Business Excellence Awards Essex (BEAE) 2019, Essex County Councillor Tony Ball, Cabinet Member for Economic Development saw for himself some of the county’s business successes during a series of visits last week.

The Conservative councillor for Wickford North, and former leader of Basildon Borough Council, met four thriving small businesses in total – three of whom were recognised at September’s BEAE, held at Five Lakes Resort.

With 99% of the county’s businesses small to medium enterprises (SMEs), Essex is home to a vast array of innovation – as demonstrated to Councillor Ball during his site visits.

Invest ESSEX, the inward investment agency and specialist business support provider, has been working closely with these four among more than 200 businesses in the county, to assist with their growth and development.

Councillor Ball took in COCO Lighting’s premises in Braintree and Davina Steel’s bakery in Halstead on Friday (November 1), having met with Richard Haward’s Oysters and the Colchester Oyster Fishery in Mersea earlier that week.

The visits were undertaken in conjunction with David Rooke and Dave Watson, Invest ESSEX Location Services Director and SME Business Manager respectively.

Cllr Ball said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting these great Essex businesses. I am excited by the innovation, commitment and creativity we have in the county and I hope they all continue their successes for many years to come.”

COCO Lighting specialises in all forms of lighting conversions, leading to their winning of the ‘Excellence in Innovation & Technology’ award at BEAE 2019.

COCO are the first company within the UK to be awarded the new BSI Kitemark for commercial lighting, a market which includes lighting applications for residential, commercial, industrial, architectural and outdoor purposes. They recently introduced the world’s first antimicrobial lighting containing BioCote technology – a unique feature making it an ideal solution for hospitals, care homes and high-dependency units where hygiene is of paramount importance.

Invest ESSEX has been able to assist COCO in their rise by introducing support to help them develop strategies and business into the healthcare sector, both in the UK and overseas.

Meanwhile, Davina Steel, producer of award-winning gluten-free baking kits and mixes, have also taken huge strides in 2019, starting by moving into a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free commercial bakery in Halstead, supplying Ocado and culminating with the accolade of ‘New Business of the Year’ at BEAE 2019.

Invest ESSEX, spearheaded by SME Business Manager Dave Watson, has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Davina Steel, assisting with business growth through the sourcing of grants and funding, social media development, PR support and provision of relevant business introductions.

Earlier in the week, Councillor Ball had joined Invest ESSEX representative Dave Watson at Richard Haward’s Oysters and Colchester Oyster Fishery.

Richard Haward has been successfully cultivating Mersea oysters in the River Blackwater for eight generations, leading to a richly-deserved nomination in ‘Family Business of the Year’ at BEAE 2019.

Invest ESSEX has leant a helping hand in a number of facets of the business, including currently working on redevelopment plans for Richard Haward’s Coast Road processing facilities to keep up with demand for the 10,000 oysters the company currently sell in their Borough Market outlet per week.

Tom Haward said: “Invest ESSEX is like a key to the door of expansion. Their plethora of experience and knowledge gives us the confidence to try and not only grow our business but also benefit the local community.”

Fellow Mersea dwellers Colchester Oyster Fishery endured a setback earlier this year with a fire at their premises.

Invest ESSEX have been only too pleased to help with getting them up and running again, including reviewing and providing input to business plans; sourcing grant funding and making supplier chain and new client introductions.

Invest ESSEX SME Business Manager Dave Watson added: “Our discussions are based around using the catastrophe as an opportunity in that we can put something back that is better than the original, which allows expansion and long-term sustainability of the business.”

For more information on Invest ESSEX’s SME business growth plans or opportunities in the region, visit