East Lancashire business gathered at the Mercure Dunkenhalgh for the International Trade Club Awards.

Watch our 2 minute video here and download our Christmas photos!

The International Trade Club, which is sponsored by Cassons, meets regularly throughout the year to share best practice and increase their knowledge of international trade. The awards, now in their 10th year, celebrate the success of local companies in international markets.

Roger the reindeer

Roger the Reindeer

This year’s entertainment included a personal introduction and photograph with Roger the Reindeer, the Hyndburn Singers, a pantomime by the Civic Arts Group and a grand prize draw followed by Christmas lunch.

The awards were for:

  • Outstanding Exporter Achievement
  • Outstanding Import Achievement
  • Newcomer to International Trade

The winner of the Outstanding Exporter Achievement Award was What More UK Limited. The company was persuaded to look at exporting 8 years ago by the East Lancashire Chamber and they now supply 63 countries. The company has grown rapidly to become the UK’s largest manufacturer and brand leader of plastic housewares, gardening and storage products, under the brand name WHAM. The company has also achieved the Queens Award for International Trade and their exports figures are in excess of £7m and growing year on year.

Michael Blakey said “We’re really pleased to win this award. I would like to thank everyone at What More as it is a real team effort. We are now exporting to 60 plus countries including Iraq, Russia, and as far away as Australia”.

Northern Industrial Electronics Ltd, whose total value of export sales and repairs increased by 31%, was highly commended in this category.

The Outstanding Importer Achievement Award went to SMUK Solutions Limited. In 2014 this company launched a new product never before seen in the UK market providing a composite decking system. Originally from New Zealand they now have distribution rights across Europe. In addition SMUK has delivered an additional 46% of increased export performance in sales. This year they were also crowned the North West Small Business of the Year in the regional heats of the National British Chambers of Commerce Awards.

Neil Martin said “It’s been an exciting year for SMUK. We changed the balustrade industry in recent years and this year with our new decking, we are shaking up and changing this industry too”. He added “Our premises have expanded and we have moved from Whalley to Blackburn and taken more people on. Here’s to 2016!”

Sovereign Beverage, who buy a one-way keg as opposed to the steel keg option, imported over 40,000 units reducing transportation costs and the cost of exporting for their customers, were highly commended.

The Newcomer to International Trade category was won by Verde Ceramica. Within 2 years the company now exports over 50% of its turnover to customers across Europe. They are an expanding business supplying porcelain tiles to over 30 stores across the continent. They are predicting £½ million in sales over the next 18 months. From a pure import perspective their commitment and drive to pursue export orders in a short period of time is outstanding.

Duane McEwan, the owner of the business said “We started the company 3½ years ago and got our first order from a store in Street, Somerset and now supply 30 stores across Europe which we hope to grow to 150 stores. He added “We joined the International Trade Club never expecting to get an order but because we’ve picked up valuable knowledge and support.”

Burgess Beds Limited was Highly Commended in this category. They have secured orders to India and have signed contracts with the USA which will double their export turnover in 2016.

Each winner was presented with an engraved glass trophy from Les Nutter, managing partner, Cassons who congratulated all the winners and wished all our exporters the best for 2016.

2015 winners of the International Trade Club Awards

2015 winners of the International Trade Club Awards
Left to Right: Michael Blakey and Julie Brannon of What More UK, Nicola Mellors and Julie Spencer
of Burgess Beds, Rebecca Berry of Northern Industrial Electronics, Les Nutter of Cassons, John Joe McGonagle of North Industrial Electronics, Neil Martin and Barbara Martin of SMUK, Duane McEwan
of Verde Ceramica and Abigail Peake and Paul Turner of Sovereign Beverage.

Speaking of the winners’ success, Les said: “The International Trade Club Awards are a celebration of how East Lancashire businesses are thriving and flourishing in challenging overseas markets, and it’s fantastic to see such a diverse range of companies succeeding in so many countries across the globe.

“It’s been a year of amazing growth and expansion for these businesses and their achievements are an example of what the region can achieve on the worldwide stage. We look forward to seeing them continue to grow and develop into 2016.”

Grand Prize Draw winners 2015 can be viewed here.

Check out our Video of the Fabulous event.

For more information please visit the International Trade Club Website contact Stephanie Warrington on 01254 356473 or s.warrington@chamberelancs.co.uk