Coldstream firm named International Trader of the Year at Borders Business Awards

THERE was plenty for Berwickshire to cheer about at the Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards last week, as a local firm took home one of the evening's top awards.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 31st March 2010, 11:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2010, 11:54 am

Over 100 business and community leaders and representatives came together for the inaugural event at the new Scottish Borders Campus in Galashiels on Friday, March 19.

And Coldstream-based Universal Fibre Optics took home the accloade for International Trader of the Year, just pipping Duns firm ScotlandShop at the post.

It's been a successful two years for Universal Fibre Optics; last year they were chosen as the recepients of the EBDA Award in recognition of their hard work both in the UK and abroad, completing projects for a number of high profile clients including HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

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As well as providing lighting for the Queen's Bentley, the company have also completed work for pop stars and football players and have spent the last year trying to widen their client base worldwide.

The firm have now expanded into the American and Russian markets after getting electrical certification for their products to go to both countries.

Commenting on the Business Excellence award win, managing director Rob Bowey said: "Our progress over the past year has opened up the market for us in a big way as very few European companies are doing what we are doing.

"We are hoping that over the next 12 months, 20 per cent of our output will be going overseas.

"We had great assistance from Scottish Enterprise which meant we could go forward quicker into these markets.

"In America we have completed projects at the Smithonian Museum, Museum of Texas and also 230 Fifth, a bar/nightclub on New York's Fifth Avenue.

"And in Russia we have completed work on the highest swimming pool in the world in Moscow.

"Back in the UK, we have just finished working on new Disney stores and the ship's name on the Queen Mary which can be seen from 20 miles away.

"We are also now the world's largest sensory fibre optic harness manufacturer for the special needs market."

Universal Fibre Optics have added four new faces to their workforce over the past eight months and are looking to add three more as they set up agencies around the world to increase their sales.

They have also recently relaunched their sister company's website (www.unlimitedlight.com) to include an online shop, making fibre optics accessible to home owners.

Like their Coldstream neighbours, fellow finalists ScotlandShop have had a busy year handling their worldwide client base.

The past 12 months have seen their tartan products used on the big screen in 'The Power of Three' and on the small screen during the Winter Olympics, worn by supporters of skaters John and Sinead Kerr, and Managing Director, Anna White, said she didn't mind too much about losing out to a fellow Berwickshire firm.

She commented: "We are delighted to have been finalists in the International Trader of the Year award and of course it's not so bad when you are beaten by another east Berwickshire company.

"Our business is truly international these days and each country is very different to deal with and have different product preferences so it certainly keeps us on our toes.

"Despite the recession we have had another good year with the strength of the Euro against the pound working in our favour. This year we plan to redesign and relaunch our website which will be very exciting."

There were seven categories in all and another Berwickshire business, Peelham Farm, were up for Innovation of the Year.

Unfortunately, they didn't win the award, but were highly commended for their commitment to diversification which includes direct selling of farm reared meat to the end user (retail and wholesale), from an on-farm butchery unit.

Their innovative approach to diversification is highlighted in the 'Peelham Own a Tamworth' scheme where consumers are encouraged to acquire their own organic Tamworth 'weaner' at 10 weeks old which then lives on the farm until butchery, when all the products are processed to the owners' specification.