Inverclyde paper firm founder named Scots EY Entrepreneur of The Year

The founder of an Inverclyde-based paper firm has scooped top prize at EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Scotland ceremony.

Poonam Gupta was named overall winner at the V&A Dundee event, as well as triumphing in the scale-up category. Picture: contributed.

Poonam Gupta of PG Paper was named overall winner at the V&A Dundee event last night, as well as triumphing in the scale-up category. Judges cited Gupta’s “grit and determination”, including facing a rare auto-immune disease, as defining features of her career.

She established PG Paper in 2003, the year after she moved to Scotland, with just £1,000 in capital, some additional borrowings and support from Scottish Enterprise.

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Initially dealing with waste paper, the firm evolved to buy from some of the world’s biggest paper mills. It now turns over £36 million annually, exports to 55 countries and has teams in India and Turkey, with offices soon to launch in the US and China.

Scott Coates of Wireless Infrastructure Group; Andrew Bissell of Sunamp; Anderson Bakewell, Simon Erlanger, and Ron MacEachran of Isle of Harris Distillers; Sandy Adam of Springfield Properties; Craig Anderson of The Scottish Salmon Company and Jean-Christophe Granier of J&D Wilkie also won prizes.

The winners go forward to compete in the UK final, taking place in London in November.

Mike Timmins, EY partner and leader of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme in Scotland, said: “Poonam’s entrepreneurial journey is a compelling story – having faced continued rejection when searching for work, she pulled on her entrepreneurial instincts and existing network to create PG Paper.

“[Its] growth to a £36m turnover company – with aspirations of reaching £100m in the next couple of years – wasn’t without challenges but Poonam’s resilient, determined business approach ultimately won her the accolade.

“All our winners and finalists have displayed excellence in their field and are role models of the exceptional entrepreneurial talent we have in Scotland - we celebrate each and every one of them. Great vision and strategy have been central to the success of these inspirational leaders, and despite the wider uncertainty in our local and global economy, Scotland’s business leaders have proven resilient, ambitious and determined. They are unstoppable, and long may we support that.”