Three Northern Ireland firms win Queen's Awards for business acumen

Roger Pannell of Unicorn, which has won a Queen's Award

TWO companies in Lisburn along with a Belfast-based luggage delivery business have each won a Queen's Award for their business acumen.

Unicorn Flooring, a washroom products and steel fabrications business, is recognised for its international trade, while Kelvatek, a technology developer in Lisburn, won its award for innovation.

And Send My Bag, set up in 2010 by Adam Ewart, was honoured in the enterprise category of the awards, which recognise and celebrate business excellence across the UK.

Unicorn Flooring makes and markets the world's largest range of PVC interlocking flooring solutions under the brand names Flexi-Tile and Ecoloc, selling into the industrial and commercial sectors.

Its export strategy of expanding and growing existing distributors, exploring new markets and product diversification resulting in overseas sales has seen the business grow by 141 per cent over the last three years.

Most of the company's products (90 per cent) are exported across 29 non-UK markets including the Nordics, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Dubai, Hungary and Portugal. It already exports to Australia and USA and has identified these markets as huge potential for future growth.

Managing director Roger Pannell said: "We have made great strides to improve our brand and product recognition globally and the results are evident with entry into 13 new markets in the last three years.

“We are continuing to expand and will be creating additional opportunities for ambitious individuals who wish to be part of a thriving Northern Ireland business firmly established on the international stage.”

Meanwhile Send My Bag's founder Adam Ewart, who appeared on Dragon's Den in the company's early years, said: "Winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise is a testament to the hard work of an ambitious team, which has grown from only five employees in 2012 to 32 staff today."

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The UK has some of the most entrepreneurial and innovative minds in the world delivering jobs, growth and greater choice for consumers and I am proud to see a wealth of these businesses being recognised today.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, supporting more than 300,000 jobs and revenues of £31 billion in Northern Ireland. Through our Industrial Strategy we are building a Britain in which they will continue to thrive."

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