SIR Peter Vardy, chief executive of Reg Vardy, has been honoured for his contribution to the motor industry.

Sir Peter was announced as the inaugural winner of the AM Industry Personality of the Year award in front of some of the biggest names in the motor business at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.

He was chosen by AM Editor Stephen Briers as the person who made the most significant contribution to the motor industry last year.

Presenting him with an engraved plaque, Mr Briers said: "Sir Peter has combined a tireless enthusiasm for his business with extensive work for charity, helping under-privileged children.

"With his roots in the North-East, this man is a shining example of a regional retailer who had the ambition and drive to expand into a nationwide business. His group is also one of the most respected, by his competitors as well as car-makers."

Sir Peter said: "While the award has my name on it, it really is a recognition of our 5,000 colleagues at Reg Vardy who work extremely hard every day to make our business a successful one and to provide our customers with exceptional service."

Sir Peter is celebrating 21 years at the top of the company founded by his father, Reg Vardy, at Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, 80 years ago.

Reg Vardy has gone on to become one of the UK's biggest motor retail groups with 71 dealerships and an annual turnover of £1.4bn.

* Mike Browne, chairman of Sunderland sofa retailer ScS, has been nominated in the London Stock Exchange PLC Awards, sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Mr Browne, who won North-East Business Executive of the Year 2001, has been nominated in the Entrepreneur of the Year category. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on March 15.