Fall in export winners reflects scale of downturn

Queen's Awards: Interest stays strong with the number of applicants at a five-year high and the innovation category boasting an increase

By Liz Vaughan-Adams
Tuesday 24 December 2013 03:15

Only 62 companies have won an award in the export category of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise – the lowest number of winners for 35 years, reflecting tough economic conditions.

There were 123 winners across the three categories this year, down from 131 last year. The fall in International Trade awards was countered by a rise in Innovation awards and there were 10 awards in the Sustainable Development category – about the same as last year.

Rolls-Royce, Royal Bank of Scotland and Pfizer were among the awards list for the export category, which was dominated by small companies. The smallest, Norwich-based Hibreeds International, exports poultry hatching eggs and has just four staff.

The number of winners in the category came in at 62 – 23 fewer than last year and less than half the number in 1995 when the highest ever number of awards, 140, was handed out. Other winners in the category include Diamonite Aircraft Furnishings, a Bristol-based business that designs, makes and installs aircraft interiors. Aston Martin, the sports car manufacturer owned by Ford, is also on the list.

The fall in the number of awards reflects the economic downturn since companies have to show they have increased export earnings for at least three years.

In the Innovation category, there were 51 winners – the highest number in the history of the awards – up from 37 last year. Marks Barfield Architects, the designer of the London Eye, is on the list as is Marks & Spencer's menswear business unit for its machine washable suits and Trendsetter Home Furnishings for its machine washable duvets.

The 19 winners in the Sustainable Development category included BT, Seabait, a Northumberland-based firm that produces worms for anglers, and Rockware Glass, which makes glass packaging containers for food and drinks.

The overall number of applicants for the awards rose from 903 to 1,008 this year – the same level as 1966 when the awards started and the highest level for five years. The figures show that business interest in the royal accolade is still strong. The awards had to be overhauled in 1999 after just 765 applications were received – the lowest ever figure.

The number of applicants in the International Trade category fell to 362 from 418 last year. The number of applicants in the Innovation category rose to 421 from 320 while those in Sustainable Development rose to 225 from 165.

Winning a Queen's Award entitles companies to fly the award flag as well as to display the emblem on their letter headings, in advertising, on the packaging of goods and on the goods themselves.

The awards are held for five years, meaning those granted this year will expire on 20 April 2008. According to a survey, 88 per cent of respondents said using the emblem was valuable in marketing.

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