A RECORD number of companies have entered this year's Somerset Business Awards.

Organisers also say that the quality of entries for the County Gazette-backed awards is higher than ever before.

Around 20% more businesses entered the competition than last year and judges will now begin short-listing entries.

Jenn Chidley, marketing and communications coordinator at the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, who organised the awards, said: “It is fantastic to see the number of entries up again on last year. It just goes to show how important the Somerset Business Awards are to businesses in this region.

“The quality of the entries has improved dramatically, which means the judges are going to have an extremely tough time short-listing, making it a more exciting contest than ever”.The annual business awards recognise business success, credibility and customer service and are hotly competed for each year.

Now in its seventh year, the awards have earned a prestigious reputation.

David Griffin, partner of Albert Goodman, the awards' main sponsor, said: “Every year the Somerset Business Awards becomes more competitive and the standards rise substantially, making it an even more influential accolade to win. “Businesses have tried really hard to prove themselves this year and have shown that, despite the economy, they can succeed. Albert Goodman is proud to be associated with the Somerset Business Awards again this year.”

All shortlisted companies will be invited to the glittering black tie gala dinner and prestigious awards ceremony, which will be held on November 16 at the Somerset County Cricket Club's conference centre in Taunton.