AN eco-friendly firm from the Capital which makes plant-based food packaging has been named best small company in Britain.
Bosses at Vegware said they were “delighted” after triumphing over hundreds of competitors to scoop the £10,000 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Streamline UK company of the year award.
As well as unveiling a bespoke company tartan celebrating Vegware’s Edinburgh links, directors confirmed they would open a new base in Australia and triple office space in the Capital to cope with surging demand.
Communications manager Lucy Frankel said: “We’ve won other awards but those were for sustainability.
“This is a business award – what’s exciting about this is that our eco credentials are now putting us to the fore as a leading business.”
From its base in Polwarth, Vegware develops, manufactures and distributes a wide range of completely compostable packaging and catering disposables, including coffee cups, food bags and soup containers.
Ms Frankel said Vegware’s win had come after a period of stellar growth, with sales shooting up from £400,000 in 2008 to more than £4 million this year and staff headcount increasing from two in 2009 to 26 currently.
She said Vegware had become a global brand, with operations in the UK, US, South Africa, Australia and Central Europe, and distribution from Iceland to Portugal.
The company’s new city HQ – three times the size of its current base – is set to open next month.
Ms Frankel hailed the firm’s success as evidence of the Capital’s “can-do attitude” and its strength as a business location. “Edinburgh is just a fantastic place to do business,” she said. “It punches well above its weight in terms of the number of really exciting, dynamic and innovative businesses it has now.
“I would say there’s a can-do attitude in the city that really inspires entrepreneurs. It’s a very exciting place at the moment – there’s a real feeling in the air that anything is possible.”
Vegware managing director and founder Joe Frankel said: “We saw that food service needed packaging which can actually be recycled after use and responded to that challenge.
“Our unique solution of certified compostable catering disposals and full recycling support is helping the UK’s biggest operators meet sustainability targets and save money.
“This is a major coup and we are all absolutely delighted with the recognition. The FSB prize money will be a great contribution to our product development programme.”
The win was also hailed by local politicians and business chiefs.
Councillor Gavin Corbett, Green member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart, said: “As a member of the city’s economy committee, I still see too many examples of where economic policy and a greener future seem at odds.
“So it is fantastic to have on my own doorstep a company that is reconciling the two and prospering in the process.”
Colin Willman, FSB chairman, said: “We were impressed by the staggering growth of this company, which now has an established footprint in countries from the US to Australia.
“Vegware fulfils a real need in the world of catering and proves that eco credentials are right at the heart of our economy’s future.”
Businesses boom in Capital
From humble beginnings in Leith, photo journal service Blipfoto has become one of the world’s most dynamic social networking platforms.
The BAFTA-winning site is now used by “Blippers” in 160 countries, with 1.8 million photos and nine million shared comments posted.
Cementing the Capital’s reputation as a foodie hotspot is porridge bar maker Stoats, whose products are sold in cafes and delis across the world.
Flight comparison site Skyscanner is another emerging tech star, employing more than 30 different nationalities at its Edinburgh HQ and drawing 25 million visitors every month.