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Queen’s award for Enterprise

FROME footwear label DUO has been honoured for services to international trade in the annual Queen’s Award for Enterprise accolades. Renowned for their innovative footwear and boot collections, the Frome-based manufacturer and retailer has been recognised for an outstanding performance in overseas markets in the last three years, with direct exports to customers now spread across 132 countries. Announced on Her Majesty’s birthday on 21st April, the awards are the UK’s highest accolade for business success. They are made each year by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who is assisted by an advisory committee that includes representatives of government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions. DUO was founded in 1972 and its Milsom Street boutique has been a popular fixture on Bath’s shopping scene for 30 years. The brand, which now also designs shoes and ankle boots in width fit options, was one of the first in its sector to recognise the potential of e-commerce, leveraging technology to expand in to new markets and win business abroad. On top of buoyant UK performance supported by flagship stores in London and Edinburgh, exporting internationally has remained a cornerstone of opportunity for DUO. Sales in France, Germany and Netherlands accounted for 65% of the brand’s overseas business in 2011. Exports in emerging markets such as USA and Australia accounted for 16% whilst remaining international territories totalled 19%. DUO attributes its success to a service-orientated approach in core overseas markets. Local language sites operate in France, Germany and Netherlands, supported by native speaking customer service teams based at DUO’s head office speaking a total of five languages. The company also employs the services of local PR and online marketing agencies in these territories, driving international press and customer focused marketing at a grass roots level. DUO’s CEO Nick Sinfield comments, “To receive an award in jubilee year seems extra special, and to have responded so positively to the government’s call to action on exports leaves us in no doubt of our contribution to the wider economy. “At the same time we’re proud to have fostered so many new relationships with European customers through a period of instability in the eurozone – it reflects very well on our unique blend of style and tailoring.” The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise honour outstanding UK companies and encourage the development of British business. There are two types of award – for businesses and for individuals – and three categories: international trade, innovation and sustainable development. The awards began life as The Queen’s Award to Industry, instituted by Royal Warrant in 1966.