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Northern Ireland’s best small company celebrates a berry successful pitch

The entrepreneur behind a premium liqueur infused with wild berries has won the Northern Irish heat of The Pitch 2011, BusinessZone.co.uk’s search for Britain’s best new companies.

Barbara Hughes, who runs Boozeberries with her husband, won over three expert judges in Belfast’s Grand Opera House. The event, organised in association with print and digital services company Yell, was the last regional heat in The Pitch 2011’s search for Britain’s best small businesses.

The couple’s product is a liqueur naturally enhanced with the infusion of wild fragrant berries, and is already stocked in several branches of Tesco Northern Ireland.

Boozeberries and four other small businesses were judged by Karen Darby, a serial entrepreneur; Carl Hopkins, marketing expert and star of Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire and Will McKee, entrepreneur, investor and one of Ireland’s leading board directors.

A confident pitch combined with a product that has secured genuine interest in both the UK and USA markets secured Hughes, who has a background in the food and retail industry, a place in the grand final of The Pitch 2011 at London’s legendary Pacha night club on 18 November. The overall champion will receive £50,000 worth of business support.

Dan Martin, BusinessZone.co.uk editor and The Pitch founder, says: “The Pitch 2011 has been on the road since June tracking down the UK’s best small businesses and our Northern Irish contenders certainly didn’t disappoint. All five demonstrated exactly the sort of commitment and passion needed to get the economy back on track. Unfortunately however, there could only be one winner.

“Barbara Hughes won over the judges with a business that already has an impressive brand and is stocked by the UK’s biggest supermarket. We look forward to seeing how she compares to our champions from England, Wales and Scotland.”