Five furnishings businesses win Queen’s Awards

The winners of the 2022 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise have been announced, celebrating the achievements of UK businesses.

This year, 232 businesses representing every part of the United Kingdom and a range of sectors have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen on her birthday as among the best in the country.

Awards have been won in the categories of International Trade, Innovation, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity.

Within the furnishings sector, five businesses were recognised with awards. These were Flair Rugs, House of Hackney, Bancroft Soft Furnishings, Used Kitchen Exchange and Essential Healthcare Solutions.

Here’s why they won their respective Queen’s Awards.

Flair Rugs – International Trade

Glossop based Flair Rugs Ltd. is a family business established originally in 1982 and acquired by new owners in 1984. It designs, sources and supplies rugs from international manufacturers, before shipping them directly to overseas customers or one of its two warehouses in the UK. It works directly with retailers but also wholesalers and distributors. Overseas sales increased by 112% over the three year period with the proportion of goods exported increasing from 5.8% to 8.6%.

Flair currently supplies 26 countries, mostly within Europe. Ireland is its largest market followed by France, Romania, Czechia and Poland. Segmentation is important to the company and involves identifying customer needs, past behaviours, demographic profiles, profit potential per segment etc. Flair won the Queen’s Award for International Trade 2019 and now wins it again for Outstanding Short Term Growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

House of Hackney – International Trade

House of Hackney started in September 2010 and is based in Shoreditch High Street London. Its founders set about designing and producing fabrics and wallpaper that evoked a glorious nostalgia, infusing each room with colour, print and life. Since the first collection in 2011, House of Hackney has blazed a trail through the magnolia-walled interiors of the 21st century – spearheading a renaissance for painterly prints and exquisite colour.

Over the three years to March 2021, overseas sales have grown by 61% and now make up 21% of sales. Its top five market are United States, France, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. It has focused on targeted growth within its key international markets, particularly the USA and France. The company wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

Bancroft Soft Furnishings – International Trade

Bancroft Soft Furnishings Ltd was formed in 2008 and is based in Bingley, West Yorkshire. Over three years Overseas sales have grown by 44%. They sell a variety of decorative blackouts, Textured Woven Fabrics, Sheers, contract linings and FR Upholstery fabrics. It is now a supplier of soft furnishings to the hospitality, cruise, education, healthcare, and domestic sectors. Its main markets are the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Croatia.

Its future strategy is to build sales to £5 million per annum. For its overseas marketing, it will continue to exhibit at the Heimtextil Show in Frankfurt each year in January. This will enable it to increase the company’s profile to existing and new customers and countries. The company wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

Used Kitchen Exchange – Sustainable Development

Used Kitchen Exchange (UKE), is a B-Corp founded in 2015 in Widnes and has ten employees. It is an online only, buy/sell platform for pre-owned/pre-installed kitchens, appliances and household fitted furniture. These are sold on behalf of homeowners and industry partners, including; photography, measurements, conditional survey, removal and delivery. Directors Helen and Philip Lord have provided inspirational leadership.

The company has normalised reuse in a notoriously wasteful sector where landfilling complete kitchens was usual, and they have built the business to become the preferred digital marketplace for buying and selling preowned fitted furniture including, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, conservatories and fitted furniture. UKE is awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development because it demonstrates sustainable thinking throughout the whole product process and delivery, including influencing the wider kitchen supply industry.

Essential Healthcare Solutions – Innovation

Essential Healthcare Solutions (UK) Ltd, established in 2003, specialises in producing pressure relief surfaces, such as mattresses for hospital beds. The company identified an opportunity to design a better passive mattress, combining high thermal conductivity and internal convection, to give improved heat transfer and improved patient outcomes for pressure-related ulcers.

The Trezzo HS mattress launched in 2017 includes 60% high density graphene enriched foam (an endothermic heat absorbing substance) which enables a highly conductive pathway for heat to move away from the body. It also incorporates a tri-zonal (head, trunk, heel) castellated surface to the foam (precision cut grooves on its upper face surface) which enhances comfort. The performance of the mattress is such that hospitals can reduce the number of days a patient requires a dynamic mattress. Research across two hospitals has demonstrated 80% cost savings through this reduction.

Paul Scully, Small Business Minister, said: “This country is renowned for its entrepreneurial achievements and there is no greater showcase for it than The Queen’s Awards. It’s vital we celebrate the success of our businesses and recognise the contributions they make to communities across the country.

“I congratulate this year’s winners for their hard work and commitment over the last year and I wish them every success for the future.”

Winners’ awards are valid for five years. Winners are permitted to fly The Queen’s Awards flag at their main office and use the emblem on their marketing materials. Winners are also given a Grant of Appointment (an official certificate) and a commemorative crystal trophy.

View the full list here.

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