CONFIDENCE among businesses across the South West is on the rise, and increasingly favourable economic conditions are prompting more and more firms to invest in staff and customers, seek out further commercial opportunities and realise their ambitions for growth.

The prestigious 2014 Wiltshire Business of the Year Awards are therefore taking place this Friday against a positive backdrop, as more than 100 organisations compete for silverware and the cachet which comes from their association with the awards, which celebrate excellence in business in the county.

A long-time partner of the event, commercial law firm Thrings, is once again sponsoring the blue ribbon Overall Excellence award.

Thrings senior corporate partner John Davies said: “Since I started judging the awards in 2007, I’ve met so many fantastic businesses in Wiltshire. But this year the standard of entries seems higher than ever.

“The judges have been struck by just how many businesses tick the ‘all-rounders’ box: ones which have performed well over the past 12 months, demonstrated financial security, acted professionally at all times and delivered exemplary service.

“We have also enjoyed learning about businesses which have not been afraid to innovate, those which look after their staff, and those which are prepared to immerse themselves in the local community.”

John said Wiltshire was a county which encouraged enterprise and rewarded hard work.

“The downturn took its toll on many businesses in Wiltshire, but those which continued to work hard, improved efficiency, kept an eye on costs and generally demonstrated strong commercial acumen are the ones that are doing well now.

“Businesses in Wiltshire look out for each other during the tough times, and as a county we continue on that path. “Our region is as beautiful as any in the UK, but don’t be fooled – it’s a great place to live and to base your family, but at its core it is commercially driven. From agriculture to high–tech industries, Wiltshire has the lot.

“Over the past 12 months, we have continued our long-term partnerships with a number of clients in the county, advising some of them in landmark cases.

“We advised the shareholders of Brinkworth-based Watson Petroleum on its £117m acquisition by global company World Fuel Services Corporation, and provided strategic and legal advice to Swindon-headquartered Intrinsic, the UK’s largest network of restricted and independent financial advisers, on its purchase by wealth management provider, Old Mutual Wealth.

“We also continue to support local business organisations like Business West, SNAP, the Chamber of Commerce and Influence Swindon. Being part of the fabric of the Wiltshire business community is vitally important to us – we are stakeholders in the local economy.

“The business awards are renowned for attracting excellent nominations from Wiltshire’s thriving business community. “As a leading commercial law firm with a strong commitment to its regional markets, Thrings takes great pride in supporting the awards.”