A North East cost management firm is flying the flag for the UK in a European awards scheme.

Great Annual Savings Group has been selected to compete in the innovation category of this year’s European Business Awards, which celebrate the achievements of entrepreneurs and businesses in more than 30 nations.

The Seaham-based firm, which recently announced an ambitious expansion plan that will result in the creation of 100 jobs, will now compete with companies across Europe to go through to the final stages of the prestigious scheme. Successful companies will be informed in early September.

The innovation category is open to companies that have instigated improvements in their business through the adoption of forward-thinking ideas. The judging panel will also reward firms that have created jobs, driven economic growth and put innovation at the heart of their business development strategies.

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director at Great Annual Savings Group, said: “Naturally we’re thrilled to have been nominated to represent the UK in a well-established awards scheme that has been running successfully since 2007. We have come a long way since launching the company three years ago and we now employ more than 40 people at our new headquarters in Seaham.

“We will be up against stiff competition but we believe we have every chance of success. Innovation is part of our DNA; we’ve made a conscious effort to engrain it in our company culture and ongoing business growth strategy.”

GAS was nominated for the European Business Awards by Baker Tilly, part of the RSM International accountancy network which sponsors the programme. In the last eight years the scheme has rapidly established itself as the major accolade in the European business arena, winning the backing of international businesses, state leaders and European Commissioners.

Launched in 2012, GAS helps businesses reduce their variable costs and save money in a range of areas including energy procurement, energy and water cost management, fire safety, telecoms and insurance. Earlier this year the company secured funding that paved the way for a relocation from its original home in South Shields to bigger premises on the Spectrum Business Park in Seaham.​​​​​​​

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.