By Kate Madley
Five of Wales’s top exporters have been recognised for their success after receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category.
The award is given to companies who have shown outstanding achievement in international trade, resulting in substantial growth in overseas earnings and commercial success over three years.
This year, 152 businesses throughout the UK received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, including six Welsh companies, five of which – Bon Bon Buddies, Just Rollers, Reid Lifting, SPTS Technologies and SRK Consulting – were noted for their success in international markets.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Bon Bon Buddies is led by founder and managing director, Chris Howarth, who identified a niche in the market for branded confectionary. Sales were bolstered when the company launched into export markets, growing rapidly year-on-year to £39 million in 2012.
Employing 155 staff, Bon Bon Buddies now has eight dedicated European sales and logistics facilities with further distribution in Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East and China. The company also owns its own chocolate factory which produces for both Bon Bon Buddies and major confectionery brands.
“Winning a Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is an honour for the company and great recognition of our continued success and sales in the overseas confectionary markets as well as recognition of the exceptional work of our team,” said Chris Howarth.
“The past three years have seen significant growth for Bon Bon Buddies. We now export to 40 countries including the majority of EU countries and in 2012 we entered a number of new markets including Finland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Middle East.
“Looking forward, our strategy is focused on increasing our market position as Europe’s leading supplier of every day and seasonal licensed character and branded confectionary. We aim to further grow sales over the next five years to in excess of £80 million and the proportion of non-UK sales from 57% to over 75%.”
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are in recognition of outstanding achievement in innovation, international trade and sustainable development by UK businesses. Winners are announced on the Queen’s birthday every year and the awards represent one of the UK’s highest accolades for business success.
“We’re extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award from Her Majesty the Queen,” said Kevin Crofton, executive vice president and chief operating officer of SPTS Technologies.
Headquartered in Newport, SPTS also has manufacturing plants in California and Pennsylvania with sales offices in China, France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
“It recognises the hard work and achievements of all our employees who work in our Newport factory and in our support centres across the world,” continued Mr Crofton. “SPTS manufactures wafer processing equipment for the semiconductor industry, serving global customers in Europe, North America and Asia. Our markets are international and we export more than 95% of our equipment.
“We have grown by developing products that help our customers produce increasingly complex devices used primarily in consumer goods; while at the same time reduce their cost of manufacture.”
Another Welsh winner was Reid Lifting, who received an award in both the international trade and innovation categories. The Chepstow-based company provides innovation solutions in the lifting equipment market and now has offices and distributors across Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and beyond.
Just Rollers’s accolade marks the second time in the last four years it has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. A manufacturer of rubber compound and rubber and polyurethane covered rollers, Just Rollers now exports its products to over 55 countries worldwide.
Completing the Welsh contingent of international trade award winners was SRK Consulting. Established in Cardiff, it employs 160 people and provides experienced support for all aspects of the natural resource industry. The firm is part of the SRK Group, which has 50 offices on six continents.