This year, Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, and Ms Susan Haird, Deputy Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment, were Guests of Honour and Keynote Speakers at the event. The winners of the Exporter of the Year awards were Stainless Steel (UK) and Toluna (France). The Achievement of the Year award winners were Specialist Technologies (Stag – UK) and Smartbox (France). The event, which was held at the Mayfair Hotel in London, was attended by 150 members of the Franco-British community.
These awards, which were sponsored by BDO Stoy Hayward, Cripps Harries Hall LLP and Citröen UK Ltd, are designed to encourage and promote the bilateral trade and economic links that exist between France and the UK.
“Given the current economic context, this event was an opportunity to recall and reward the efforts, dynamism and success of small and medium-sized enterprises. It definitely helped highlight the essential role played by SMEs in the development of both countries’ foreign trade,” said Arnaud Vaissié, President of the FCCGB.
Ms Idrac stressed the necessity of helping more SMEs to export: ”Just 1% of French companies carry out 70% of our exports and only 40% of these are regular exporters... The United Kingdom is the 1st location of French subsidiaries in Europe ...with 2/3 of SMEs.”
Ms Susan Haird added that, “Our economies are already very closely intertwined... the UK imported £22 billion worth of French goods last year.” Regarding the financial crisis, both speakers emphasised the importance to companies of continuing to invest, and of following long-term development strategies.
Stainless Steel Fasteners Ltd, the UK Exporter of the year, is a leading manufacturer of high-quality non-standard bolts, nuts, washers and fasteners that are suitable for even the most hostile environments. The company exports to more than 40 countries and is acknowledged as a leader in its field. Steve Wilkinson, Managing Director, said, “It was a great pleasure to receive the Franco-British Award. We are very proud to attain this accolade, which is the culmination of our continued success serving the export markets worldwide. Every employee can take great satisfaction in the part they played in helping SSF gain this award and in our continuing drive for excellence.”
Specialist Technologies Aerospace Group, which is a member of GIFAS (France) and SBAC (UK), was the winner of the UK Achievement of the year award. The company provides spares and stock management to the aviation and defence industries. Thibault de Bouillane, Director, commented, “The application of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) in the aerospace supply chain is an innovation created by a relatively small company with a global impact. We are delighted that the jury understood the technicality. None of this would have happened without close Franco-British collaboration. The immediate effects of this award have been a definite boost to the morale of the two sets of teams involved, as well as higher profile recognition from industry.”
Toluna plc, the French Exporter of the year, is a leading independent online market-research panel and online survey-software provider to the global market-research industry. Frederic Petit of Toluna said, “On behalf of Toluna, I am delighted to receive this recognition from the Franco-British Business community, which gives us further resolve to continue growing our online research business in the UK.”
Smartbox, the winner of the award for French Achievement of the year, is a leading provider of gift-experience packages, including sporting activities, spa breaks and travel. Benoit Linossier of Smartbox said, “The team and I were delighted to receive this Award from such prestigious hands. We are particularly proud that the jury was composed of businessmen who have had great successes in the UK, which gives us even more confidence for the future. The team is more determined and motivated than ever to continue to grow our business in the UK.”
The winning companies have also won the following prizes:
- Free active annual membership of the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain, worth £550;
- Two hours of free business-management consulting, offered by BDO Stoy Hayward (event sponsors);
- Two hours of free corporate legal advice, offered by Cripps Harries Hall LLP (event sponsors);
- A weekend for two people in a Relais Châteaux hotel resort in the UK (stay and flights included), offered by Relais Châteaux, in conjunction with Flybe;
- Press coverage in INFO, which is FCCGB’s bi-monthly magazine;
- Inclusion in a specific press-relations promotional operation aimed at the British press – in the form of a press release announcing the awards’ result – to be carried out by the French Technology Press Bureau (FTPB) on behalf of FCCGB, worth £750. FTPB is the London press bureau of UBIFRANCE, France’s export-support agency.
About the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain
The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain (FCCGB) – also known by its French initials, CCFGB, which stand for Chambre de Commerce Française de Grande-Bretagne – aims to promote and facilitate Franco-British business and trade relations. FCCGB is headquartered in Holborn, in the centre of London.
The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain offers a range of services to its 600 member companies and organises more than 40 events every year, including networking business cocktails, seminars, and B2B events. FCCGB also publishes INFO, a bi-monthly magazine, which is sent to all members.
The Franco-British Business Awards (FBBA) are organised each year to celebrate the achievements of French and British exporters.