Queen’s award winners

Remarkable growth which has transformed a hobby into a multi-million-pound business has seen its North Lincolnshire owners win The Queen’s Award for Export.

RNS Chartered Accountants' partner Alex Douglas (right) with Hannah and Jack at the firm's Brigg warehouse.

Remarkable growth which has transformed a hobby into a multi-million-pound business has seen its North Lincolnshire owners win The Queen's Award for Export.

Wrendale Designs was started by Hannah Dale seven years ago when the owner of a local shop selling some of her original artwork suggested she put the designs onto greeting cards.

She has not looked back.

Hannah was joined by her husband Jack as the business grew and, supported by RNS Chartered Accountants, their products are now sold across the world.

They employ more than 30 staff at their Brigg headquarters and more than 50 self-employed sales representatives ensure their products can be bought across Europe, the United States, Australia, and a host of other countries.

The Queen's Award for Export is the latest recognition for a North Lincolnshire success story.

Hannah and Jack thanked RNS partner Alex Douglas for his support with the application form.

“We had to show three years of exceptional export growth, as well as demonstrate a clear export strategy,” said Hannah.

“We feel very lucky that our products have been so well received overseas and we're really proud to receive this award.

“Alex has been brilliant throughout. He's supported us over the years and helped with the award by collating the extensive amount of data that was required to support the application.”

Jack, who looks after the business side, said: “We realised quite quickly that there was demand for our collections overseas. Alex has helped us to establish our operations in both the US and Europe.

“We have a subsidiary in the States, Wrendale Designs Inc, which has enabled us to set up a bank account and take payments over there.

 “Alex is also advising us on setting up in the Netherlands, looking at VAT and corporation tax obligations.”

The European operation will help protect the business from any potential Brexit fallout.

 “Funnily enough, we only really started exporting seriously to Europe after the 2016 referendum,” said Jack.

“We had been exporting to the States, Canada and Australia some time before that.

“We are delivering direct from our warehouse in Brigg to the likes of Germany and France. The pound has been weak since the Brexit referendum and this has helped offset postage costs.

“We have doubled sales to the European Union in the last year and it has really started to gain momentum.

“That's why we took the decision to set up a warehouse in the Netherlands and we are presently working on getting the stock shipped and over there.

“We export to Switzerland but, with it being outside the EU, it does entail more paperwork.

“It's another reason for establishing the base in the Netherlands as we will be trading within the EU after Brexit.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to trade with us.”

Hannah now sits as head of a talented graphic design team and its designs can be found in garden centres and other retail outlets in the UK across a range of gifts and kitchenware.

In January, the enterprising couple, who have three children, are launching a range of watches plus water bottles, satchels and bags.

They moved into their 10000sq ft Station Road warehouse in Brigg during 2015 and soon realised it would not be big enough.

“By the time another 9000sq ft was added a year later we had already outgrown it. More warehouse space is something we are looking at again.

“We have had 30 to 40% growth over the last three or four years and are constantly looking at how we can move the business forward still further,” Jack added.

Alex congratulated the couple on their latest award.

“It's a fantastic story of a business that has grown from basically nothing into a serious employer and exporter,” he said.

“It's been fascinating to watch and a privilege to help Hannah and Jack.

“They have worked hard for their success and are constantly looking at ways to improve the business and the customer experience.

“They are an example and inspiration to others.”

Hannah, a former stockbroker, grew up in Scawby and went to Caistor Grammar School, before reading Zoology at Cambridge.

She worked in London before returning to Lincolnshire in 2008 to marry Jack, a mechanical engineer.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Toby Dennis, hands over The Queen's Award for Export to Hannah and Jack Dale.
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