Services and technology in London and East Anglia lead this year's Queen's Awards winners

Thu 29 Apr 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

queen's awards

The 2021 list of Queen’s Awards winners was published today (29 April) with a diverse group of successful exporting businesses included in the International Trade category.

Region-wise, winners hail from all parts of the UK and from a broad range of sectors, reflecting the diversity of the UK economy.

A complete list of winners across all categories can be found in the London Gazette.

The Institute of Export & International Trade partners The Queen’s Awards on the International Trade category – the competition’s largest with 122 winners this year.

London leads the way

London was home to the largest number of export winners (22), followed by East Anglia (16), the South West (14), and the South East and West Midlands (both on 12).

Tonic Games, a games developer which has seen a 656% growth in overseas sales over the last six years, was among the successful London firms.

Other London winners included Brandfuel, which provides online events and brand experiences, and educational activity provider Toucan Box.

East Anglian aerospace

East Anglia’s thriving aerospace sector was also well-represented.

Cambridge-based Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group was among the winners after seeing its exports more than double from £37.5m to £77.5m in the three years to 2019.

Norwich’s Cobalt Aerospace also won, having seen its exports of products for aircraft interiors jump to £2.3m.

Love in the South West

The South West is home to 2021 winner Lovehoney, an adult-products retailer which manufactures and distributes its own branded goods globally, with more than 150 developed in-house each year.

Over the last six years its overseas sales have grown from £12m to £56m – an overall increase of 365%. 

Strongest verticals

The sectoral diversity reflected that of of the UK’s export output as a nation and hinted at some emerging industries for the UK overseas.

Service providers were the best-represented in this year’s list, accounting for over a fifth of the winners – unsurprising considering the sector accounts for more than 80% of UK exports according to government figures.

Successful entrants from the sector included Birmingham e-learning firm Guykat, South Shields’ inspection services company NECIT, and London specialist recruitment company nGAGE.

Technology companies were the next biggest category, with winners including software firms such as Glasgow-based Altia Solutions, Nottingham’s Insight Analytics and Altrincham’s Emsys Maritime.

Winning entries by vertical sector

Services – 27
Technology – 25
Food – 10
Engineering – 9
Leisure/sport – 9
Health – 8
Education – 6
Textiles – 3

Food rewarded

Ten food companies picked up international trade awards, making it the third largest by number of winners.

Successful food entrants include:

  • Rothesay’s Bute Island Foods – producers of vegan cheeses and ice creams that have been exported to Australia, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Israel
  • Leicester-based Lakshmi (trading as Cofresh), which has seen overseas sales of its healthy snacks grow by almost eight-fold, exporting to over 50 countries, in the past six years

Other well-represented sectors among the winners were engineering, leisure and sport, health and education.

Exporting winner profile: Woolroom

East Midlands-based Woolroom, which makes wool-based bedding products, was founded in 2008 with the aim of reminding consumers of the benefits that wool brings to the home. The challenge was to break the stigma surrounding wool as a fibre more suitable for cooler climates, that it is difficult to care for and is itchy and scratchy to touch or wear.

In 2017, when Chris Tattersall took over as majority shareholder and managing director of the business, Woolroom accelerated its exports drive into new parts of the world including North America. The firm launched a local website for the North American market in 2018, with key products in US sizes.

North America is now nearly 20% of the firm’s total business and is growing rapidly as an export market, with Woolroom’s first US all-natural mattress soon to be launched. 

Tattersall said he would “encourage anyone thinking about entering The Queen's Awards to go for it as a great way of elevating British business on an international platform”.