Previous winners of Queen's Awards

Bedfordshire winners of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise 2016

On HM The Queen's 90th Birthday the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, the UK's most prestigious business awards have been announced, with six Bedfordshire based companies among the winners.


Winners have demonstrated that their business has substantially improved in areas of performance and commercial success by either outstanding innovation, continued over at least 2 years, or continuous innovation and development over at least 5 years. Innovation achievements are assessed for: invention, design or production; performance of services and products; marketing and distribution; or after-sales support of goods or services.

Abiligroup Limited (Ampthill) - a software company founded in 2004 which has developed a monitoring application that builds and updates a live model of all the entities in an IT infrastructure. Marketed as Cobe this innovation has been brought to market in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS). The innovative approach to visualising the IT infrastructure means they can determine the root causes of issues more quickly and reduce the amount of time that problems impact business operations.

International Trade

Winners have demonstrated that their business has achieved substantial growth in overseas earnings and in commercial success (for their business size and sector) through either outstanding achievement over 3 years or continuous achievement over 6 years.

British Converting Solutions Ltd (Leighton Buzzard) - started trading in 1928 designing, manufacturing, and installing short run corrugated box making and printing machines. The company was acquired and merged in 2012. Its export strategy has been to concentrate on “first world/industrialised markets” such as the USA, Japan and Germany. It now has direct sales offices in USA, France, Germany, Poland, Mexico and Australia; and sales agents in many other markets, Japan and Russia. With multi-lingual staff and its website operating in several languages, overseas sales have grown by 324% and the proportion of its turnover as export sales has also risen from 31% to 60% in the last three years.

Comline Auto Parts Limited (Luton) - was formed in 2000 to distribute a range of imported fast moving parts for European, Japanese and Korean cars including filters, brake pads, discs and clutches sold under the Comline brand. It sells to over 20 countries across Europe with one or two dedicated distributors per country. The company recognises the importance of building its brand and has increased its proportion of overseas sales by identifying more distributors in new countries and by widening its range of competitively priced products. It has had growth in overseas earnings of 313% over the last six years, increasing its proportion of export to domestic sales from 40% to 65%.

Hayward Tyler Group Limited (Luton) - is one of the UK’s oldest engineering companies celebrating its bicentenary in 1815. It is a major supplier of high quality, large scale pumps for power generation, nuclear, oil and gas markets with a tailored approach to each overseas market. The company has achieved outstanding increases in revenue with the majority undertaken overseas. They are the worldwide leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of boiler circulating pumps with over 2,300 units installed globally out of world production of circa 3,500 units, representing two-thirds market share.

iCandy World Limited (Biggleswade) - since 1933 iCandy’s precision manufacturing journey has led them to crafting the definitive pushchair, creating and patenting more than 10 years ago the world’s first single to double travel system within a single footprint. iCandy is a family business that has taken an everyday product, the pushchair; and through innovation and brand development, created a high end, luxury fashion product. Now manufactured overseas, the intellectual property of design is retained in the UK. Their pro-active export strategy is bolstered with frequent visits to all 27 active international markets and an intensive schedule of new international trade.

Squirrels UK Ltd (Luton) - is a company engaged in the export and distribution of discount food and drink products. The business started in 1970 from a market stall selling branded food products at discount prices. It successfully grew and evolved into Squirrels Wholesale, and is now one of the leading distributors of food and drink directly into the discount sector. The company now exports a wide range of ambient food products including confectionery, grocery, biscuits and soft drinks. It is also exports new UK brands, and a range of pickles, biscuits, cakes, tinned fruit and vegetables under its own “Thurstons Fine Foods” banner. Squirrels UK have achieved outstanding growth in overseas earnings of 334% over the last three years.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis said "I am thrilled that so many of our excellent businesses have been recognised by the Queen in this way. Bedfordshire is full of forward-thinking, entrepreneurial enterprise, working at the cutting edge. My sincere congratulations to the award winners."