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Jo Bird wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade

Published on 29 November 2013
Queen’s Award is a very prestigious award with only about 150 being made annually throughout the entire UK
Jo Bird ships 65% of its manufactured output to markets outside the UK

The factory and office staff at Somerset based Jo Bird were joined by over 20 representatives of the local community, business organisations, customers and suppliers when Somerset’s Lord Lieutenant, Lady Gass, visited the company’s offices in Highbridge recently to present the Queens Award for Enterprise International Trade.

In this year’s awards announced in the spring, Jo Bird, one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of high performance cabinets for storing and protecting industrial fire, safety, and lifesaving equipment, was recognised for its outstanding export performance over recent years which, since 2009, has seen an increase of over 140%. In 2012, exports at £1.8m accounted for over 65% of total revenues. The Company’s top two export markets, Italy and Singapore, together accounted for just under half of all exports with the remainder going to a further 24 countries worldwide.

In order to achieve this major growth in exports, Jo Bird carried out a fundamental strategic review of its operations including product design and manufacturing processes. Using customer feedback from major oil & gas companies and contractors about the increasingly extreme climates in which they are operating, it set about extending the performance of its products to meet these new environmental challenges. This involved designing products to successfully operate long term in extreme arctic, desert and hurricane conditions. For the Gorgon Project in Australia, the cabinets were designed to withstand a once in 100 year cyclone with wind speeds up to 200mph.

In addition to providing an unrivalled combination of accreditations including Lloyd’s Register Type Test and IP56 type test product approvals, the Company is also Quality Assured to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 and to BS EN ISO 14001:2004 for Environmental Management Systems.

Among the guests were the Chief Executive of Somerset County Council, Sheila Wheeler; Councillor Anne Fraser, Economic Strategy, Sedgemoor District Council; Mayor of Burnham-on-Sea, Martin Cox; Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Business West, Phil Smith and Charles Hill, Operations Manager of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

"We have been involved with Jo Bird over many years, supporting them with a number of export related services, and we’re delighted that their very significant achievements have been recognised with this prestigious award"

After the award presentation, Phil Smith commented, “We have been involved with Jo Bird over many years, supporting them with a number of export related services, and we’re delighted that their very significant achievements have been recognised with this prestigious award. As a relatively small business, to have achieved such success in a very competitive global market has required a sound business strategy, hard work and commitment and I’m personally delighted to see the dedication of Jo, Guy and the team rewarded in this way”.

 Charles Hill added, “I have always found Jo Bird to be open to new ideas and willing to embrace professional support from external organisations. At MAS, we have been involved in advising Jo Bird since 2006, ranging from developing a forward looking business strategy to the application of lean manufacturing techniques, which they have adopted to substantially improve their efficiency, performance and cost base. They are an excellent example of a company that has become a world class player by being open to change and dedicated in the pursuit of success”.

Commenting on the Award, Jo Bird’s Managing Director, Guy Atkins, said, “Since the Company was formed 27 years ago, Jo Bird has steadily built an enviable reputation for world class products able to meet the most testing of operational environments. We are proud of our achievements in becoming an internationally recognised brand. As we are only a small company, I am particularly proud of the individual contributions made by every member of our team based at our Somerset factory. Without their dedication and commitment to deliver quality products and customer service, our international trade success, as well as our substantial UK business, could not have been achieved. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is already enhancing our international reputation and will undoubtedly help to open more doors as we continue to drive our overseas business into new markets”.

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