Posted on Wednesday 22 April 2015 by Ulster Business

Ni companies scoop queens award

Mark McQuillan and Helen Boyd from Nicobrand are pictured as the Coleraine company is honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade

Northern Ireland has been well represented in this year’s Queen’s Award for Excellence with two companies honoured for their exporting prowess.

Nicobrand from Coleraine was rewarded for growing its overseas sales by 785% over three years while Vita Liberata for selling its products into 25 countries globally.

The awards, some of the most prestigious in the UK, are given only to companies which have demonstrated their business has achieved substantial growth in overseas earnings and in commercial success.

A total of 141 winners were announced this week from across the UK, 105 for international trade, 24 for innovation and 12 for sustainable development.

It’s the second time Coleraine-based Nicobrand, which manufacture pharmaceutical grade nicotine for use in smoking cessation products, has won the award, having previously picked it up in 2004.

Its stellar export growth sees it now sell £1.6m a year of product overseas to countries as far afield as Poland, Italy, Korea and the USA.

Managing Director of Nicobrand, Mark McQuillan, who has been with the 30-year old company since 2001, said he was honoured that the company has been rewarded again.

“Over the past number of years we have worked extremely hard to grow our business to meet demand from the electronic cigarette industry and through this we have achieved substantial export sales,” he said.

“The award is testament to the hard work of all of our team. We are a global leader in the nicotine business and are very proud of that fact that we manufacture these high quality nicotine products at our facility here in Coleraine.”

The company currently employs 25 highly skilled individuals, two thirds of which are graduates, and is proactive in encouraging local students to pursue studies within Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects through engagement with local schools and colleges.

The other winner, fake tan company Vita Liberata, has also won the award before but nevertheless, founder and chief executive Alyson Hogg said it was a privilege to be honoured.

“Winning the Queen’s Award for the second year running is an incredible accolade, one no other beauty brand has achieved. It’s a recognition of the dynamic, creative, tenacious and incredibly smart team of (mostly) young woman that work with us across 24 time zones and as many countries.”

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