Hindmarch bags the Veuve Clicquot trophy

THE RISE and rise of British luxury brands got yet another boost last night, when handbag designer Anya Hindmarch was named as the 2012 winner of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award.

The sound of popping corks smashing the business world’s glass ceiling resonated around the ballroom at Claridge’s last night, where Hindmarch received her award at a champagne (what else?) reception attended by guests including Ariadne Capital founder Julie Meyer, former City minister Lord Myners and his wife Lady Myners, Random House chief executive Dame Gail Rebuck, and with a keynote speech by the minister for women and equalities, Theresa May.

As well as a trophy in the shape of the champagne brand’s La Grand Dame bottle, Hindmarch will also receive a case of the real thing.

The La Grand Dame vintage is named for Madame Clicquot – the French woman who took on the running of the champagne house in 1805 when her husband’s death left her a widow (or “veuve”) at the age of 27.

In the tradition of the Madame, Hindmarch also entered business at a young age, founding her eponymous brand at the age of 19 and has grown it from a single store in Chelsea into the global brand that boasts 57 shops worldwide and an annual turnover of £26m.

To clinch the trophy Hindmarch triumphed over fellow nominees Helena Morrissey – who juggles running Newton Investment Management and raising nine children alongside promoting the role of women on company boards, and Ruth Rogers, founder and chef at the River Cafe.

An impressive shortlist indeed, but the award has not always had such an illustrious reputation.

Several previous winners have seen their fortunes change rapidly after receiving the honour, including NSB Retail Systems entrepreneur Nikki Beckett – the 2000 winner – who after a string of profit warnings saw the value of her stake in the firm plummet from £82m to £15m in a single day just a year after picking up the prize.

Beckett followed in the footsteps of Sock Shop founder Sophie Mirman and Pineapple Dance Studio’s Debbie Moore, who were both ousted from their respective boardrooms after less-than-impressive performances by the business ventures that scooped them the accolade.

But Hindmarch should have nothing to worry about with a star that is firmly on the rise.

Not only is her New York flagship store opening early next year, but the nation’s favourite Princess is also a regular customer – and when Kate Middleton totes your totes, you know you’re onto a winner.