North West high-fliers recognised in 2019 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

The North West has registered 27 awards in this year’s Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, the third best achievement across the UK behind London and the South East.

This year’s roll of honour, announced today (April 23), celebrates Her Majesty’s 93rd birthday and features a total of 201 businesses from around Great Britain.

Winners include businesses leading the way in a huge range of industries, from construction, agriculture, motoring and software development.

This year, three quarters of the total are SMEs, 30 of which have fewer than 10 employees.

They will join more than 6,000 British businesses in receiving the prestigious honour and will have the privilege of displaying the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise emblem for five years.

The Awards, now in their 53rd year, are the most prestigious awards for UK businesses, with companies from across the UK recognised for their contribution in the four categories of international trade, innovation, sustainable development and promoting opportunity.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “These prestigious awards help shine a light on all that is great about UK business today.

“I am extremely impressed to see such a wealth of talent and innovation from across the UK being recognised today by Her Majesty The Queen.

“These awards recognise the innovative products and services being provided by British businesses that are in demand across the world, as well as the sheer determination and hard work that comes with starting and running a business.

“Many of these winners are small businesses – the backbone of our economy – and we are backing them to grow, increase their productivity and create more jobs and opportunity across the UK through our modern Industrial Strategy.”


North West businesses honoured in the innovation category are:

Bitrez, from Standish, Wigan, a specialist chemical manufacturer which, in 2013, released an innovative phenolic product under
the Curaphen brand, a Bisphenol A (BPA)-free resin used for internal coatings for food and drink packaging.

This was initially driven by legislative changes and media pressure associated particularly with expectant mothers and babies.


Cockermouth-based Createc has developed a 3D radiation imaging device for mapping nuclear facilities called N-Visage which identifies the source of radiation in nuclear decommissioning sites as opposed to simply reading a radiation level.

The company was recipients of a 2018 Queen’s Award for International Trade and has also won awards from the Institute for Engineering and Technology, The International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.


DriveWorks, of Thelwall in Cheshire, is a software development company. Its DriveWorks product automates the creation of sales quotes, manufacturing documents and data, including CAD models, drawings and 3D representations online.

The software has been developed in-house and is one-of-a-kind in the UK. Used by manufacturing companies globally, the software enables the user to customise and configure products online in 3D, generate quotes, sales information, and manufacturing data.


Trafford Park-based Tenmat has developed a fire protection barrier that prevents the spread of fire behind the external cladding of buildings.

The air gap between the building and the external cladding on medium to high rise buildings acts as a chimney and provides a ready passage for the spread of fire and smoke.

There needs to be an air gap during normal use to ensure adequate ventilation, but not during a fire. The product, made from intumescent materials, is attached at each floor level behind the external cladding to create a barrier against the vertical passage of fire, smoke and heat.


Tratos UK, from Knowsley, has innovated a process and formulation of a compound used in the manufacture of cables.

The formulation can be adjusted to vary the cable properties to meet the requirements of a number of industry sectors with respect to oil resistance, toughness, abrasion and fire resistance.

The innovation addresses a range of supply quality problems identified since the privatisation of utilities in the UK and the decline of the UK cable manufacturing industry.


The promoting opportunity category features:

Preston-based Recycling Lives, recognised for its excellent social mobility programme. Previously the company has won Queen’s Awards for International Trade (2018), and Sustainable Development (2010 and 2014).

Recycling Lives founder Steve Jackson

It recycles metals, IT equipment and vehicles nationally and also leads “HMP Academies” within HM Prisons. It provides employment opportunities for ex-offenders, homeless people, substance abusers, those with mental health problems and low educational attainment, as well as redistributing food to support local charities.

The company started in 2008 with a metal recycling operation and an aim to rehabilitate homeless people and support them into full-time employment.


As a result of benefiting socially disadvantaged prisoners while creating commercial gain, Tier 1 Asset Management, based in Whitefield, Manchester, has been recognised.

It refurbishes and redeploys IT equipment on behalf of its clients.

It began trading in 1995 and employs more than 60 people, operating a waste recycling facility within HMP Forest Bank, Salford.

The social mobility programme seeks to break the cycle of crime by providing training for offenders while within prison and also long-term employment opportunities upon release. Tier 1’s work has delivered these benefits to more than 800 disadvantaged people since the programme’s inception.

Jonathan Rose

Co-founder and managing director, Jonathan Rose, said: “Winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is one of our proudest  achievements.

“It is also a testament to the dedication and support of all the staff at Tier 1 who are fully supportive and involved in our Prison Workshop initiative.

“Without them being an active part of our story this achievement would not have been possible.”

He added: “It’s a win-win situation. The prison provides a local base which we can visit for any day-to-day operational matters. It reduces waste, transportation, time and costs. Whilst we might be a ‘for profit’ business, we use our profits to make a real difference.”


The Timpson Group, from Wythenshawe, is awarded The Queens Award for promoting opportunity for its excellent social mobility

The company began trading in 1865 and it has a long-established history of supporting disadvantaged groups. It focuses on shoe repairs (Timpson), photo development (Max Spielmann) and dry-cleaning (Johnsons) and its social mobility programme recruits and trains ex-offenders, providing a job and a new start.

It works directly with ex-offenders, leading to employment through in-prison academies, work experience, direct recruitment and skilled training, supporting other employers to develop academies, working with NOMS (National Offender Management Service), ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) programme.

The programme has achieved a 75%+ retention rate of ex-offender recruits, benefiting thousands of disadvantaged people since its inception and providing more than 500 of them with jobs directly in the group’s companies.


There are 19 companies recognised in the international trade category:

2M Group is a Runcorn-based portfolio of companies founded in 2002 supplying speciality chemicals, industrial gases and associated services to customers in more than 90 countries, across a wide range of sectors.

Export sales overall have significantly increased as a proportion of total sales and doubled in value over the past three years.


Based in Sharston, East Manchester, Carrs Foods International – now known as St Pierre Groupe – was established in 1986, as part of a larger European bakery group.

The company became privately-owned, through a management by out from the parent company in 2004. With more than 150 bakery products selling in the UK and an export range of 85 products, Carrs brands, which include Paul Hollywood, St Pierre and Baker Street, are listed in around 20,000 stores worldwide. They also have an equally successful private label business.

Their top five markets are USA, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Middle East and Malta. Overseas earnings have grown substantially from £2.84m in 2015 to just under £19m in 2017.


Located in Appleton, Warrington, Combined Chemical Services (UK) was established in 2008 and is a global supplier of speciality chemical raw materials and formulated products.

It offers customers a high quality of products and services on a bespoke basis. Overseas sales have risen from £0.66m in 2016 to £1.8m in 2018, an increase of 176%, and exports now represent 52% of total turnover.

In terms of markets, the top five are North America, Germany (speciality chemicals), Italy, Germany (water treatment chemicals) and Czech Republic.


Established in 2003, Cheshire-based DriveWorks software was first developed by co-founders, Glen Smith, and Maria Sarkar. It is ideal for companies that sell ‘same but different’ products such as windows, doors, conveyors, machinery and industrial components.

Overseas sales have grown significantly – an overall growth of 50% with their main target markets being the USA followed by Europe with plans to expand further into India, Brazil, and China.


Firesafe Fire Rated Ductwork is a Lancashire-based family company in Haslingden. Founded in 2006, it is a specialist in the field of passive fire protection.

The company identified exporting and IP licensing of its CASWELL FIRESAFE® non-coated fire resisting ductwork systems as its best opportunity for growth.

It overcame many challenges including early market acceptance and varying national and global certification requirements. Focused investment and perseverance in building its overseas partner network saw sales grow by more than 500% and profitability increase significantly.


Warrington-based Foilco was started in August 1987 as a customer service-led supplier of hot stamping foils to the print industry in the UK. The company supplies gold, silver, metallic and holographic hot stamping foils to the printing industry.

Its foil can be seen on many products such as Burberry aftershave, Chivas Regal whisky, Aquafresh toothpaste, GQ magazine & Harrods Christmas gift range. The packaging is usually designed in the UK but is then produced overseas.

Overseas sales have increased by 177% over six years from £832,172 in 2013 to £2.445m in the year to July 2018. Its top export markets are Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Italy.


High Voltage Partial Discharge was founded in 2006 to provide specialist condition monitoring solutions to keep high voltage electrical assets safe and reliable in the offshore renewables, power and transmission, automotive, oil and gas and heavy manufacturing industries, into which it sells to many large and well-known companies.

The company, based in MediaCityUK, Salford, employs 57 people worldwide with offices in China, Australia and the USA.

Exports now represent more than 90% of total sales due to a well thought out strategy and a readiness to invest in people, marketing collateral and, above all, patented products, research and development.

Technical director Malcolm Seltzer-Grant said: “We have done quite a lot of research and development work over the last year, including launching new products and expanding the application range of existing products. It’s really nice to see this expansion of our product portfolio and the expansion of the number of users worldwide.”

HR manager Kelly Thorley added: “Being a growing company it’s always good to be able to show that everyone has an input into winning this award, and making it an achievable target. Everyone can say they had an input into HVPD winning the prestigious Queens Award for International Trade.”


Founded in 2009, Preston company Language Insight is an accredited language services provider of transcription, translation and interpreting, with a global client base.

The company specialises in market research across the medical and pharmacological sectors, legal services and digital marketing services, including international SEO, transcreation and website translation.

This family-owned and run company has built a business that competes internationally with global players based on its business ethics and highly personalised service to clients.

From offices in Preston, London and New York it strategically supports clients across their core business hours and has achieved significant growth in overseas sales of more than 100% in three years by establishing itself in its target sectors and markets.


Bury-based Melba Products operates as a plastic moulder of traffic management products, such as cones, signs, barriers and speed ramps, and started trading in 1982.

As a departure from its previous strategy to sell products made for the UK market overseas, the company decided to manufacture products totally geared at the export market and is now making barriers specifically for the German and USA markets. An export sales manager and an Eastern European agent were appointed.

The main current market is Spain, with significant sales from Ireland, Germany, France and Poland. The company entered USA during the application period.

Overseas sales have grown by 63% over the three year application period and the proportion of sales exported has increased to 17% of total sales.


Metstok was established in 2013 and is now based in Holmes Mill, Clitheroe, Lancashire. The company’s core products are stainless steel products, mainly flat rolled (cold and hot rolled), supplied direct from the mills in India, and then from its central stocks in Antwerp and the UK.

Metstok distribute to 12 European markets including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden and Hungary.

Its customers, 98% of whom are repeat customers, are all distributors, not end users. It is one of the fastest growing exporters of stainless steel to the German market.

Between 2016 and 2018 export sales have increased by 137% and now make up 81% of total sales.


Established in 1996, Odyssey Interactive, trading as ‘Interact’, is a global enterprise software company.

Headquartered in Altrincham, Cheshire, it also have an office in New York with the users of its software spread across the globe.

Its main product, called Interact, is a configurable, out-of-the-box intranet platform, with social collaboration tools and intuitive interface to provide a long-term, business-wide internal communication solution, without the need for specialist IT skillsets.

Clients include Lush, Sony Interactive Entertainment, European Central Bank, Travelex, Equinox,, a number of NHS authorities, and Channel 4. Overseas sales have grown by 130% across the past three years, with the main international markets being USA, Canada, France, Belgium and UAE.


Orbital Education began trading in 2008 as an operator of British-style international schools overseas.

The company now has 10 schools in seven countries – Russia ,Spain, Hungary, China, Ecuador, Slovenia and Qatar. The latter is the most recent and is operated as a joint venture with Qatar Airways capable of delivering education to 2,250 students in a purpose-built school opened in September 2018.

The company’s strategy is well considered and is clearly delivering, with overseas sales more than quadrupling over the period.

Kevin McNeany, Orbital Education chairman, said: “We are honoured to be receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2019.

“Our company believes that quality, transparency and accountability leads to success for our students, their families and the company. This award is a result of all the hard work from our team of internationally-minded educators, and I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of the board to thank everyone for their dedication and professionalism.”


ParkCloud wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade for outstanding continuous growth in overseas sales over the past six years. Over the period overseas sales have grown year-on-year by a total of 223%. Virtually all of the company’s business is international.

Mark Pegler, Matt Molyneux and Jill Williams of Parkcloud

Established in 2008 and based in Manchester, the company won the Queens Award for International Trade in 2013. It is a market-leader in providing booking and marketing services for the parking industry. It takes bookings from drivers based in more than 150 countries and has partner arrangements with car park operators in 42 countries worldwide, allowing car park operators to benefit from exposure to a large and diverse audience base in exchange for an agreed commission on each booking taken.

The company is supported by three call centres – two in Romania and one in Macedonia.


PortSwigger is based in Knutsford, Cheshire and was founded by Dafydd Stuttard, becoming incorporated in 2008. It develops software testing tools that expose weaknesses in web applications.

Having started developing the software as a hobby he wrote a book ‘The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook’ which is still the go-to book for web security testers.

Today they sell to more than 35,000 individuals in 9,500 companies in around 120 countries across the globe, including almost 60% of the Global Fortune 500 companies and 80% of the US Fortune 100 companies.

More than 90% of the company’s sales are exports and its overseas sales have grown by 127% across the past three years. Its major markets are USA, Germany, India, Canada and Japan.

Since the introduction of a reseller network, China has seen sales go up by 1600%.


Richardsons Healthcare designs and manufactures operating table and birthing mattresses. Based in Bootle, Merseyside, it started trading in 1988.

Michael Gould

The company sells its pressure-relieving mattresses and accessories to some of the world’s largest medical devise companies and is recognised as the industry leaders in the development of this type of patient support surface.

Overseas earnings grew by 66% during the three-year period with the top overseas markets including Germany, France, Finland, Sweden and Italy. More recently the company has sold its products to the USA and Chinese markets.

Success with a contract to manufacture heated mattresses, classified as medical class 2 product, has allowed major investment in quality assurance. With this new product line there is great potential to grow sales in this sector overseas, particularly the United States.

Managing director, Michael Gould, said: “This is wonderful recognition of the hard work and professionalism of our entire team. The award marks the next step in our drive to develop new products and expand our international customer base.

“We recognise that exporting is essential for the viability of our company, and British manufacturing in general.”


Roberts Recycling was established in 2012 and is based in Huyton, Knowsley. The company is an award-winning exporter of used clothing, buying and selling unwanted apparel and textiles.

Initially trading within the UK market selling to exporters, Roberts Recycling began increasing volumes and exporting goods directly into Europe. Trade into Europe increased, along with the customer base. This gave opportunities to find markets for a wider range of used clothing products to be exported. Export sales increased by 200% between 2016 and 2018.

Sales are now continuing to Eastern Europe and have spread out from Poland to Georgia, Latvia, Romania and the Middle East.


Universal Smart Cards wins the Queen’s Award for international trade for outstanding short term growth in overseas sales over the past three years.

Over three years overseas sales have grown year-on-year by a total of 238% and overseas sales now account for 11% of total business.

The company’s main market is the USA where it has opened a subsidiary office, but it does sell worldwide. Its top five markets are USA, Kuwait, UAE, Colombia and South Africa. Established in 2001 and based in Accrington, Lancashire, the company is a market leader in the manufacture, supply and deployment of smart cards and related smart card products.

It also offers consultancy and advice services to clients to facilitate the implementation of smart cards for applications including corporate ID, IT login and physical access, cashless payments, print management, loyalty and membership, time and attendance, asset-tracking and smart ticketing for transport.


Whyte and Ivory started from a home base in 2010 and is now located in Nelson, Lancashire. The company supplies curtain linings and fabrics to leading wholesale brands and retailers, covering the home and contract sectors.

It does the commercial “heavy lifting” of producing and holding volume stocks of industry essential textiles, as well as developing supply chain and product innovations that provide change and innovation in the market.

It now numbers many global brands and leading retailers amongst its customer base, selling hundreds of thousands of metres of textiles each month. The company has seen its overseas sales grow by £2.03m across the past three years, with exports growing from £1.6m, representing 48% of total sales in 2015, to £3.6m at 60% of total sales in 2017.


Woodford Engineering Consultancy (UK) wins the Queen’s Award for international trade for outstanding short term growth in overseas sales over the past three years.

Overseas sales grew year-on-year over three years from £1.1m to £3.2m, a rise of 177%. Overseas sales now account for 96% of total sales, and all overseas sales are to Airbus SAS in France via a tier-one Airbus supplier in Germany.

The company is the only preferred supplier to Airbus in its field and is currently in the first year of a three-year contract which promises substantial growth in future overseas sales.

Established in 2009 and based in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, the company provides aircraft systems design, development, certification, safety engineering services and consultancy.

Its customers include aircraft manufacturers, aircraft design organisations, aircraft operators and aircraft equipment suppliers. The company concentrates on supplying services to various Airbus companies and their tier 1 suppliers and its overseas business is all with Germany.