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Winners of the Network Limerick Awards announced in No 1 Perry Square



Limerick’s Top Business Women celebrated their success on Wednesday May 21st in No.1 Pery Square, Limerick’s City Luxury Boutique 4 Star Townhouse Hotel at the Network Ireland Limerick’s Businesswomen of the Year Awards.

The Network Limerick Awards were hosted by Jenny Huston, 2FM DJ Founder and designer of jewellery brand Edge Only.

The winners on the night came from three categories:

Carmel Bracken Designwise Automation won Network Ireland Limerick Businesswoman of the year Established Business (a business trading for 3 years or more),



Donna Kennedy Lilac Rose Bridal won Network Ireland Limerick Businesswoman of the year New Business (a business established not more than 3 years)

While the winner in the employee category was Petrina Hayes, Marketing Manager with The Savoy Hotel.

Speaking at the event host Jenny Huston said it was a line from the American Baseball Film ‘Field of Dreams’ ‘Build it and they will come’ that she has inspired her in her opening months of business.

She also passed on advice she has received to ‘celebrate success’ no matter how small.

The Canadian born broadcaster presented a specialist music show weeknights on RTÉ 2fm but has extensive radio and TV experience, filling in for the late Gerry Ryan on the Gerry Ryan Show, hosting Liveline and The Tubridy show, as well as guesting on RTÉ Radio 1 programmes such as Drivetime with Mary Wilson, The John Murray Show, and the Pat Kenny Show. She has also contributed to the BBC, CBC and The Edge, Canada.

However, most recently Jenny is the founder and Managing Director of the jewellery brand Edge Only, launched last September. Designed and made in Ireland, Edge Only makes precious metal jewellery in edgy designs for men and women.

The Network Ireland Limerick winners will now get the opportunity to repeat Network Limerick Ireland’s success in 2014 when member Siobhan Scanlon won Business Woman of the Year award in the Employee Category and went on to win the overall national award. This year Network Ireland Mayo are hosting the Annual Network Ireland Conference and National Women in Business Awards in Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co. Mayo on the 25th September 2015.

Taking part in the awards is a unique benefit available to only to Network Members and as the organisation has grown, the awards have also grown in significance and importance to the Network members.

Award Winner Profiles:

Network Ireland Limerick Business Woman of the Year, Established Business Carmel Bracken, Design Wise Automation:

The former legal secretary started DesignWise Automation Limited in 1993 with her husband who came from a Mechanical Engineering background.

DesignWise Automation Limited are industry leaders in automation design and consultancy services. They provide industry with intelligent and effective solutions and are committed to delivering the highest standards of design in each project. Their mission is to provide Designwise Solutions for Special Purpose Equipment & Automation Systems. They have supplied many industries with their key focus being Healthcare and Medical Devices.

According to Carmel Designwise Automation has produced their best ever set of accounts in 2014 as the companty entered its 21st year. But despite being in business so long the Business Woman of Year says ‘we are still focused on developing Designwise’s potential and have a number of ideas in the pipeline.’

She explains that the company’s motto is ‘‘a simple solution to a complex problem’.Our core competency is design, hence the name Designwise.Our Designwise experience has led us to solve all types of mechanical issues with production lines and also in the manufacturing process. Design optimisation keeps every component part as simple as possible resulting in robust solutions that are produced cost effectively through a large network of sub suppliers and backed with our own in house toolroom’.

Carmel believes that the company achieves this by ‘working closely with the customer to achieve an in depth understanding of the problem, identifiation of innovative solutions that compliment rather than compete with the cost effectiveness, implementation of agreed solutions on schedule and to budget.’

2015 looks set to be a hugely successful year for Carmel and her husband Declan as they will not only celebrate 21 years in business but they will also celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary in June.

Network Ireland Limerick Businesswoman of the year New Business, Donna Kennedy, Lilac Rose Bridal:

Lilac Rose is a leading bridal boutique offering a one-to-one service for brides looking for their wedding dress and accessories. It caters to a market seeking more of an eclectic and individual style. Donna says: ‘We are uniquely defined by our range of stock and offer the highest standard of customer service. Each customer is assigned their own dedicated consultant who is on hand throughout’.

“My aim is not only to provide alternative pieces but ensure that the service and aftercare far exceeds my customers’ expectations. I am driven by ensuring customers leave overjoyed with their purchase and in awe of the service received. Creating a strong rapport with customers allows me to show that I truly value clients’ custom and will go beyond what is expected to ensure that their experience is the happy and memorable one they had envisaged. I encourage brides to allow their dress to be a reflection of them and to not let their individual style be compromised by other influences.”

Donna has not only succeeded in the local market but also further afield with 45% of her sales coming from a National market and 5% of sales coming from an International market.

The former solicitor now Bridal shop owner says it’s her ‘passion, excitement and zeal to grow my business and possibly bringing to market further businesses is what drives me to succeed.

Network Ireland Limerick Business Woman of the Year, Employee Category: Petrina Hayes, The Savoy Hotel

Since taking on the role as Marketing Manager of The Savoy Limerick City Hotel Petrina has been responsible for the re branding of The Savoy, from the Marriott and the continued growth and development of the Savoy brand. She is also responsible for the Hamptons restaurant brand in the city centre which has been a runaway success since it opened in 2008.

With the addition of the luxurious 4 star George Hotel, O’Connell Street, Limerick, to the Savoy family in 2014, Petrina has also taken on the smooth marketing integration of the George pre and post take over.

‘We are working on the new branding of that product which will see two new offerings emerge, ‘the George Limerick’ and ‘Da Vincenzo Italian Food & Wine Hall’. Overall our group now offers two hotels with 220 bedrooms, two stand alone restaurants, we employ over 200 staff members and we welcome thousands of guests every week to the heart of Limerick.’

Petrina is a member of the Irish Hotels Federation, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Limerick & Shannon Chambers of Commerce, Network Limerick, Limerick Networkers, Limerick City Business Association, Shannon Region Conference & Sports Bureau.

Passing on her knowledge and experience is also important to Petrina. ‘As a past student of The Limerick Institute of Technology, I was proud to have taken on two wonderful students for three months separately, I gave them both an insight into the world of Sales & Marketing. I was also delighted to have been asked by Limerick Institute of Technology to speak to current students about my successful career to date’.

The Marketing Manager maintains that keeping on top of customer needs is vital to her role. ‘ The hospitality industry is a fast moving sector and it is so important to be aware of what your customer wants and expects, reading relevant and up to date articles, traveller’s reviews and blogs help me to understand what we need to be achieving to keep our guests happy. As American business leader Victor Kiam once said, “In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running, if you stand still, they will swallow you.”

Petrina believes her colleagues have also played an important role in marketing The Savoy ‘While I am responsible for all the marketing campaigns, I do believe that I along with my fellow colleagues are the most important marketing tools. We are the people that are entrusted to close the sales and to make the guests’ experience SO great that there’s no question they’ll come back and be our guests again’.


Network Limerick

Network Limerick is the organisation for enterprising women in business, the professions and the Arts in Limerick and is one of eight branches nationwide. It provides a forum for Women in Business to network, exchange ideas and increase their business contacts at monthly networking events. All businesswomen, both self-employed and employees are welcome to join Network Limerick. Network Limerick gives members the platform to engage with like-minded women in Limerick and throughout the country, sharing ideas, knowledge and contacts, providing a mutual support mechanism and creating a positive and fresh approach to professional and personal development for women at all stages of their career or business.

For more details and to confirm attendance please contact:

Sandra Honan PRO 087 7543208

You can check Network Limerick out on Facebook here.
You can read more on Business here.

Photos by Billy Butler for I Love Limerick 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.