Excellence celebrated by Queen’s Awards
FORT Vale Engineering, Isoprime, Regatta and I Love Cosmetics are among the North West winners of the prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2013.
The Government-backed awards recognise excellence in international trade, innovation and sustainable development. Individuals have also been rewarded for inspiring entrepreneurship.
Across the UK some 152 businesses have been recognised this year: 116 exporting companies have won the awards for international trade; 27 for innovation, and nine for sustainable development.
The number of North West winners was significantly down on last year at 13 compared to 25, and there were no winners in either the innovation or sustainable development categories. Eleven, mainly Manchester-based companies, were recognised for international trade and two people were singled out for their dedication to enterprise.
Winning companies attend a Buckingham Palace reception and can use the Queen’s Award emblem in advertising, marketing and on packaging for five years as a symbol of their quality and success.
Fort Vale Engineering
Burnley-based Fort Vale Engineering, a subsidiary of Fort Vale Ltd, employs 329 staff and manufactures stainless steel valves and fittings for the safe transportation of liquids, gases and powders worldwide. A previous Queen’s Award holder, the company has seen a 255% increase in overseas earnings over the last three years. It owns a subsidiary manufacturing company in China, which accounts for 64% of the company’s export turnover, and distributors in the Netherlands for Europe, Singapore for South East Asia and Australasia and the US for the North and South American markets.
I Love Cosmetics
Established in 2003 and based in Manchester, I Love Cosmetics Limited, formerly Zamya Limited, is a wholesaler of UK produced body/beauty care products plus gift items from the Far East. Overseas sales have risen by 560% over the last three years which has also seen exports as a percentage of turnover rise from 33% to 81%. The company has also developed a distributor network containing key agreements with strategic partners who can provide access to new markets. It now sells into 40 countries.
Managing director James Brown said: “A Queen’s Award for Enterprise represents the highest UK business accolade, and to receive such significant recognition is very poignant for all those at I Love Cosmetics. We have established ourselves in recent years as a major export brand, with rapid international growth and strategic distribution throughout Europe, the US, Canada, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and certain countries in the Far East.”
Cheadle-based Isoprime designs, builds and services mass spectrometers. This first time Queen’s Award winner claims a 30-35% market share of the world market and aims to be a world leader. Export sales have grown by 104% over the last three years. Isoprime operates at primary R&D level working with universities and niche new businesses undertaking research in its specialist field.
Manchester-based Metalube produces speciality lubricants and protective greases used for producing non-ferrous tubes, wires, cables and electrical conductors. Metalube has invested heavily in a website, corporate identity and marketing material to support its sales efforts, and has a programme of research to identify new markets. This experienced exporter is active in 80 markets and has offices in China, India and Brazil. As part of the strategic plan, three more offices will be developed shortly in UAE, Mexico and the US. Overseas sales account for around 96% of total turnover in the past three years.
Founder and managing director David Lee said: “This is the greatest tribute we could receive and our team is tremendously proud. When we started the business back in the 80s all our trade was in the UK. Over the decades we have watched the domestic industry diminish, and today we are almost entirely an export business, selling our oils and greases to over 80 countries worldwide.”
L-R: Commercial director Douglas Hunt, managing director David Lee, chairman Robert Brown, technical director Chris Nettleship
This business manufactures ‘AlphaLED’, a range of LED-based retail display and architectural lighting products traded worldwide. It took a strategic decision to export with a new technology product in 2009. It now has 72 distribution partners in 40 countries. In addition, the company sells directly to major retailers and lighting design companies, places adverts and editorial in international lighting trade journals and promotes the brand at international trade shows. As a result, exports have grown by 708% in the last three years.
Manchester-based Regatta, a winner last year, has increased overseas sales by 66% over the last three years. The company produces outdoor clothing, footwear and accessories and snow/cycle clothing and accessories. Exporting to over 54 countries and with offices across the world, 75% of the company’s export business is from within the EU, the company’s main sales focus. The company’s key strategies have been to reinforce its position as the largest UK Outdoor brand and to establish the Regatta and Dare2b brands in the top five in Europe.
Lancaster-based Rinicom develops and manufactures radio communication systems aimed at the emergency services and professional security services. Over the last three years it has grown overseas sales by over 31% a year, by expanding rapidly throughout Europe, Asia and South America. This has been fuelled by a sales and marketing strategy, customer support and commitment to leading-edge technologies.
Stirling Lloyd Polychem
Stirling Lloyd Polychem in Knutsford was formed in 1970 and specialises in high performance waterproofing and surfacing materials for the civil engineering, construction and highway maintenance markets. A first time Queen’s Award winner, this exporter’s growth continues to be dominated by export sales that have grown by 98% over the last three years and now account for over 60% of its total sales. Stirling Lloyd has offices in the Middle East and the US and supplies high quality UK manufactured materials to over 50 countries.
Manchester-based Tenmat designs and manufactures advanced composite materials for critical engineering applications and passive fire protection. The company operates in a niche market and has invested resources to identify and overcome significant barriers to entry particularly in areas that require rigorous customer approvals and long-term testing programs. It is a current holder of a Queen’s Award for Innovation. The company has a diverse spread of overseas markets and exports to 55 different countries, with the US being of particular significance. Exports represent 75% of turnover, achieving 50% growth over three years.
Total Post Services
Totalpost Services, of Alston, Cumbria, manufactures mailroom equipment and ink cartridges and imports and redistributes x-ray threat detection equipment. This first time Queen’s Award winner has grown its exports by 82% over the last three years. Totalpost Services makes sales to 38 countries. The majority of its sales are throughout Europe with a strong presence in the US. It now plans to open an office in Paris.
Managing director David Hymers said: “Totalpost’s growth would not have been possible without the phenomenal team that we have. We brought manufacturing in-house creating our own production process right through from coding to final product labelling. We carefully researched our markets and customers and above all else worked incredibly hard. I am delighted that the efforts of all staff have been recognised through this award.”
Established in 2000, Triveritas, of Brampton, Cumbria, provides consultancy and clinical trials to develop new veterinary vaccines and medicines to improve animal welfare. The company is a first time Queen’s Award winner with overseas sales having risen 219% in the last three years. Lead times to obtain new business are long for this niche specialised business but, once won, the re-order rate is 95%. Operating with colleagues in Germany, France, USA and Poland, the company currently exports to 23 countries, of which the US has 46% of its overseas sales. New territories entered in the last three years include India, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Australia, Japan and Bulgaria.
Claire Dove, chief executive of Liverpool training organisation the Blackburne House Group, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for Enterprise Promotion following a long history of running and promoting social enterprise. Ms Dove was awarded an MBE in 1993 for her work in setting up the Women’s Technology and Training Centre, an education facility in Liverpool to help single mothers and those from the black community to develop their potential.
Liz Cross, chair of Blackburne House Group, who has worked with Claire for over 20 years, said: “This award comes at a special time for Claire and the Blackburne House Group – celebrating, as we are, 30 years as a thriving community based education and social enterprise group. Claire’s vision, tenacity and drive to get people on board illustrates what it takes to grow an idea to address exclusion and social injustice into an inclusive and successful social business.”
Lady Cunningham is employed as an enterprise development coach on a project called Ways Into Successful Enterprise (WISE) that works in West Cumbria. The area suffers extensively from rural and social deprivation, with high levels of worklessness and child poverty. She has been involved in activities that support and mentor disadvantaged individuals and groups to set up, or continue in business.