Event report

Franco-British Business Awards 2022

A crowd of over 200 business leaders and distinguished guests attended the French Chamber’s annual Franco-British Business Awards on 23rd November.

The ceremony saw six companies rewarded for their special efforts to support people and communities, build inclusive and diverse workforces, make progress on climate action, and nurture the Franco-British relationship. 

Fabienne Viala, President of the French Chamber of Great Britain, welcomed attendees to the ceremony and drew attention to its special significance. 

“These awards have always been a very special moment in the Chamber’s calendar,” Viala remarked, “as they celebrate the remarkable achievements of our community of Franco-British companies. 

“In times of uncertainty and instability, it is more important than ever to celebrate the remarkable endurance of the Franco-British business community and the French Chamber which represents it.” 

The winners this year 

The first of this year’s winners to be announced was Optivo, who took home the Community Impact Award. Optivo was recognised for its work helping residents of social housing in both France and the UK to access training and support to set up their own businesses. 

“We have supported over 4,000 residents in the past five years,” said company COO Jane Porter. “A big thank you to the participants and residents of our homes that we have accompanied on their journey to employment, training and starting their own business – this award is for them.” 

This year’s Franco-British Collaboration Award went to champagne house Vranken-Pommery Monopole, which since 2017 has been producing its Louis Pommery England English sparkling wine on the Pinglestone Estate in Hampshire. 

Accepting the award, Vranken-Pommery’s chef de cave Clément Pierlot provided a humorous summary of how a mix of French and British talent has helped to make the end product a success: “Une bonne cuillère of vision and know-how from our team in Reims, mélangée with the craftsmanship and grapes of our British team, le tout assaisonné de passion centred on a stunning vineyard.” 

VINCI Construction Grands Projets was the winner of this year’s Net Zero Champion Award, recognised for its clear roadmap to net zero emissions by 2050 and industry leadership through innovations like low-carbon concrete for large-scale infrastructure. 

“I am obviously proud to be here tonight – but this is something that we need others to fight too,” said Managing Director François Pogu. “I commit to sharing the great innovations proposed by our team: it is something that offers great possibilities for us all. This is a fight that each of us needs to tackle.” 

This year’s ceremony also saw the introduction of the New Business Award, rewarding an organisation trading for less than three years. Its winner, impact-for-profit startup IONA, aims to cut down on both costs and emissions in the logistics sector through using autonomous drones for last-mile deliveries to outlying areas. 

“We want to connect everyone to the globalised network,” explained company CEO Etienne Louvet-de Verchère. “In Scotland, one million people struggle with logistics, either because they cannot access delivery, or because of delivery surcharges – which accounted for £45m last year.” 

The Diversity and Inclusion Award went to law firm Browne Jacobson LLP, recognised for its commitment to widening access to the legal profession. 

Celebrating her firm’s win, Browne Jacobson’s senior partner Caroline Greene commented: 

“We recognised that so many people get on in a career or a job because of who they know – and that can’t be right. What we wanted to do was change that dynamic: we wanted to give opportunities to people that didn’t know anybody. 

“23,500 students have now benefited from our programmes. We remain committed to breaking down barriers, to giving everybody the opportunity to thrive and succeed.” 

Alongside the five category awards, the jury awarded a sixth ‘Coup de Cœur’ Award for a shortlisted company which, although not winning within its category, still deserved to be recognised for its accomplishments. 

This year’s award went to Café Joyeux, a network of French cafés offering secure employment to people with learning disabilities. The company currently operates nine cafés across France and is set to open a London branch in 2023. 

“Only 5% of people with a learning difficulty have a paid job – and that is unacceptable,” said Trustee Olivia d’Orgeval. 

“Café Joyeux is all about inclusion, gaining skills, and unlocking hidden abilities.” 

The future of Franco-British business 

Despite the challenges that 2023 will bring for business, Viala said, the tenacity shown by this year’s winners was testament to what could still be achieved. 

Similar sentiments were expressed by another distinguished guest in the form of French Ambassador to the UK, HE Ms Hélène Duchêne. 

Addressing the guests, Ambassador Duchêne congratulated the winners and expressed her conviction that the coming year would mark a renewed sense of cooperation between France and the UK. 

“I am very pleased to be part of this event,” the Ambassador remarked. “It has given me a fantastic opportunity to meet all of you, whose energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship exemplify the vibrant and resilient Franco-British business community. 

“My arrival coincides with a shared desire to inject new and positive direction into our relationship. This aim is based on the certainty that we are friends and allies, and that we have a shared past and also a future to map out together. 

“To everyone who took part in this competition, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations.” 



Some final words of thanks 

The French Chamber extends its thanks to the sponsors of each of this year’s award categories: 

This year’s ceremony could not have taken place without the sponsorship of Mind Partners or the generosity of our partners the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Heart of the City, Maddyness, and Français à Londres

Thanks also to the members of our jury this year, chaired by Pascal Boris CBE. 



You can find out more details about the Franco-British Business Awards and all this year’s winners here

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