Hilary Devey, managing director of logistics company Pall-Ex has been named a finalist in one of the most prestigious business awards for women.

Ms Devey, who founded Leicester-based Pall-Ex in 1996, is one of four in the frame for the 2006 Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award.

The award recognises the achievements of women in the business world and, now in its 33rd year, is considered one of the premier international awards for businesswomen.

Other finalists include Vivienne Cox - chief executive for BP's gas, power & renewables and integrated supply & trading; Edwina Dunn - cofounder and chief executive of marketing consultancy Dunnhumby; and Emma Harrison - founder and chairman of training firm A4e.

Ms Devey built Pall-Ex up from 29 hauliers and 117 pallets handled in the first night of operation to a multi-million pound business with more than 100 depot locations, 180 staff and regularly dealing with over 8,500 pallets per night.

The company specialises in delivering small consignments of palletised goods, where previously only full loads and parcel services had been offered.

Ms Devey had also developed a reputation for her environmental initiatives, attempting to reduce waste and conserve fuel at the company's £12 million, purpose-built hub in Ellistown, Leicestershire.

She speaks out on issues such as women in male-dominated sectors and has won a number of awards recognising her success, including the 2004 Midlands Businesswoman of the Year.

Ms Devey is also a supporter of the charity Transaid - which provides transport solutions for developing countries.

Sally Warmington, Veuve Clicquot brand director, said the awards were inspired by Madame Clicquot, considered by some to be the first great modern businesswomen.

"This year's finalists share her bold approach having dared to create their own businesses, and challenge boundaries in a diverse range of sectors and companies," Mrs Warmington said. "They join a 33-year long line of extraordinary business women and we are delighted to celebrate their achievements," she added.

Ms Devey said she was delighted by the nomination.