Outdoor living retailer White Stores' 30-year-old founder James Whiteley has won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 award at the Essex Business Excellence Awards. White Stores has also been voted the Runner Up for the Best Growing Business Award in the medium-sized company category.

The Essex Business Excellence Awards programme, organised by the Essex Chronicle Media Group, showcases the best private businesses, public sector organisations and charities based in Essex. The 2015 winners were announced at the awards evening held at Hylands House in Chelmsford on Friday September 25th.

Starting in the garden furniture industry aged 16, stuffing cushions at his father's factory, James Whiteley launched his own company in 2005. From a business initially operating out of James' bedroom, White Stores now generates an annual turnover of over £7m.

"I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone at White Stores for helping me to win the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award," says James Whiteley, founder and MD of White Stores. "It was very nice to receive an award for so many years of hard work.

"I truly believe that starting up and growing a successful business can change people's lives for the better," adds James. "That's why I devote myself to work. To have my enthusiasm for business life officially recognised by the judges of the Essex Business Excellence Awards has been a fantastic boost to me, both personally and professionally. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage other young UK entrepreneurs to go out there and make their own dreams happen."