TEN small-businesses in the North-East have been crowned the region’s best at an awards ceremony that celebrates the most inspiring in the industry.

The annual Federation of Small Business (FSB) Celebrating Small Business Awards were held at the Sage in Gateshead and ten winning North-East businesses will now go forward to the national UK’s Best Small Business 2019 finals in May.

Crafter's Companion, a market-leading craft supplier with head offices in Newton Aycliffe and California, was named International Business of the Year.

The company was commended for its worldwide performance, including its sustainable export activities to more than 40 countries.

Sara Davies MBE, founder of Crafter’s Companion, said: “Crafter’s Companion has grown at an incredible rate throughout the past 12 months so we are delighted to have been recognised as International Business of the Year at the FSB’s regional awards.

"The team has worked incredibly hard and it is fantastic that their efforts are being rewarded.

“There are so many businesses flying the flag for the North-East and the calibre of talent at the awards this year was outstanding. The-North East is a great place to do business and the team and I look forward to representing our region at the national awards ceremony this May.”

The winning businesses were competing to be crowned the best across a number of categories including business and product innovation, digital innovation and young entrepreneur.

The sell-out event, sponsored by Gateshead College, attracted 120 businesses and guests.

Sagetech Machinery Ltd based in Ferryhill won the award for Microbusiness of the Year, the company manufactures a range of Vertical Panel Saws specifically for the woodworking, signage and education sectors.

And Drake The Bookshop, in Stockon, won Family Business of the Year. The three-year-old business is currently the British Book Awards best bookshop in the North of England.

Event sponsor Ivan Jepson, director of business development, Gateshead College, said: “It’s extremely important to recognise the vital contribution that small businesses make to our region, which is why we were thrilled to sponsor the FSB Awards here in the North-East."

Michael McMeekin, FSB North-East area leader, said: “Our Awards celebrate the superb small business community we have right across the North-East and Tees Valley. This year’s winners have shown tenacity, grit and determination against an uncertain backdrop for the business community. The calibre of this year’s applicants showcase the real talent that the region has across a wide range of sectors."

The finals will take place in London on May 23.