MORE than 90 per cent of the UK's businesses are classified as small businesses so they are crucial to the economy.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce is once more sponsoring the Small Business of the Year category at the Echo-backed South Coast Business Awards

This award will be presented to a dynamic company with less than 25 employees, which demonstrates all round excellence in business. Businesses must be trading for at least 18 months, and have at least one year’s accounts available. The judging will focus on financial performance, future objectives and the competitive advantage of the business. It will also look at examples of specific strategies which have driven business growth with up to £5 million turnover.

The judges will be looking for innovative businesses with a growth in turnover, a company developing new products or service and/or new markets.

Last year's winner were refrigeration specialist Cold Store Rentals.

The Hook-based firm provides custom-built, modular cold rooms across the UK to the food manufacturing and distribution, pharmaceuticals and the raw pet food market. Big name customers incllude Quorn foods, Jordan’s Ryvita and Sodexo.

Catering to businesses of any size, Cold Store Rentals often helps business to scale-up, with extendable units, medium-to-long term leasing and flexible finance options including sale, rent or rent-to-buy.

The company was founded by industry professional Steve Prior and Tom Scott in 2014.

Cold Store Rentals employs just five full-time staff but draws on a large pool of regular sub-contractors.

Its customers include Quorn foods, Jordan’s Ryvita and Sodexo. The firm also has a sister company, Ice House Rental, which deals with short term rentals for festivals and big sporting events