Karen McQuade, owner of the UK Foodhall, was named winner of the 2009 HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards, which is said to be the UK’s premier showcase for the most promising start-up businesses and most inspirational entrepreneurs.
McQuade battled against the odds to set up her own firm selling healthy British food to UK schools. Just two years ago, she was earning £50,000 a year as a national sales manager at a meat and poultry company, but she decided to leave a 10-year career to set up the UK Foodhall, based in Welshpool, Powys.
She managed to persuade investors to pump in £200,000 and it only took her 18 months to pay the money back. Her firm is now the biggest supplier of school dinner meat in the UK.
HSBC Business Banking head Huw Morgan said: “The outstanding quality of all the National Finalists made judging extremely tough this year but the UK Foodhall really stood out and epitomised the spirit of the Start-Up Stars Awards. We hope that winning this Award will help the business go from strength to strength.”
The UK Foodhall develops products using assured meat, in particular Red Tractor chicken, and it sells around 60,000 chicken fillets and 50,000 low-fat sausages per day.
The company will now receive £25,000 in prize money and £5,000-worth of free advertising from Start-Up Stars supporter Google, with mentoring at its UK headquarters.