Scottish Export Awards 2017

Car components manufacturer John McGavigan motors to success at Scottish Export Awards

Few companies have a history as varied as that of John McGavigan, the winner of the “exporter of the year” title at the 2017 Scottish Export Awards. Founded in 1861, the business began as a printer of signs and religious materials.

By the 1970s, the Bishopbriggs-based company had established itself as a supplier of printed materials for car manufacturers. Today, it makes printed plastic components for the instrument panels on a wide range of vehicles.

Along the way, the company has created an enviable record when it comes to exports. Some 80% of its products are shipped overseas and it’s working in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets, including China.

The firm’s achievements were recognised at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards in association with Scottish Enterprise on 22 March at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel, with the company winning the large exporter of the year title and being crowned as the overall Scottish exporter of the year. Its double success came a year after receiving a commendation from the judges in the large exporter category at the awards.

“Receiving the 2017 large exporter of the year and overall Scottish exporter of the year awards is excellent, and a tremendous recognition of the efforts and dedication from the entire team that has contributed to the company’s success over recent years,” explains Steve Mathers, director at John McGavigan.

“Our business continues to grow, helped by our continued international presence and, in particular, the developing markets in Asia. We look forward to the future and to celebrating the success with likeminded businesses that embrace the opportunities exporting can bring.”

More than 470 guests gathered in Glasgow to see John McGavigan carry home its prizes. The event’s organisers hope that the year-round international trade campaign run by BQ in partnership with Scottish Enterprise will encourage other entrepreneurs to follow in the company’s footsteps and begin to export their products and services.

SEA 2017“There’s a real sense of pride amongst Scottish firms when they consider their achievements in export, and we’ve seen that in spades during this year’s competition,” says Bryan Hoare, director of BQ. “As we work to recognise those businesses that lead the way and inspire more to follow in their footsteps, we couldn’t be prouder to work with these exceptional exporters, helping to showcase their stories.”

Alison McGregor, chief executive of HSBC Scotland, adds: “The export awards are always a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the diverse range of exporting successes across Scotland. We are continually witnessing Scottish businesses of all sizes benefitting from international trade opportunities and the number of nominees is testament to Scotland’s exporting strengths.

“All winners and nominees have demonstrated real ambition by expanding overseas and we hope to see more of this trend in the future.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the keynote address by Bob Keiller, the entrepreneur who scaled-up North Sea oil and gas support firm Production Services Network (PSN) before selling it to Wood Group and later becoming the London-listed company’s chief executive. Keiller now serves as chair of Scottish Enterprise and shares his experience and expertise with companies throughout Scotland.

Guests at the dinner were also given a sneak-peek behind the scenes at Scotland House, the shared workspace for Scottish companies that opened at 58 Victoria Embankment in London during April. The new facility offers a home-away-from-home for Scottish firms working in the British capital, including hot-desks, meeting rooms and a programme of events and networking opportunities, with a team of staff on hand to provide business support and guidance.

Scotland House gives businesses the opportunity to have a foothold in London and gives them a platform from which they can begin or develop their export or international trade links. London’s status as a global financial hub and the presence of so many multinational companies and their advisors in the city presents a wealth of opportunities for Scottish entrepreneurs.

The 2017 Scottish Export Awards came just weeks after figures released by the Scottish Government showed that Scotland’s exports rose by 3.6% to £28.7bn during 2015, the most-recent year for which statistics are available. Exports to the European Union (EU) rose by £520m to £12.3bn, driven by an increase in demand for petroleum and chemical products, while exports to countries outside the EU climbed by £485m to £16.4bn.

The United States continued to be Scotland’s largest overseas trading partner, followed by the Netherlands – which acts as an import hub for the rest of Europe – and then France, Germany and Norway. Food and drink manufacturing remained the largest export sector, accounting for £4.8bn of overseas sales, with whisky making up 80% of the total.

“Scotland’s strong track record for exporting goods and services all over the world is testament to the strength of our innovative, ambitious and forward-thinking companies and the awards ceremony was a great opportunity to recognise these strengths and celebrate their achievements,” says Paul Lewis, managing director of Scottish Development International (SDI) and Scottish Enterprise’s international operations. “Helping to grow exporting from Scotland remains a priority for us and we will continue to work with as many companies as possible to help them open up new opportunities and new markets, in order to achieve their growth ambitions.”

SEA 2017And the winner is...

E-Commerce Exporter of the Year Award
Winner: Trtl
Highly commended: Alex Begg & Co

Most Entrepreneurial Exporter of the Year
Winner: Scotmas Group
Highly commended: Trtl

Micro Exporter of the Year
Winner: Chocolate & Love
Highly Commended: Schoolhill Engineering

Small Exporter of the Year
Winner: M Squared
Highly commended: Westeross Fisheries

Large Exporter of the Year
Winner: John McGavigan
Highly commended: Balmoral Offshore Engineering

Export Team of the Year
Winner: Paragon Inks
Highly commended: Ecosse Subsea Systems

High Growth Markets Exporter of the Year
Winner: Churchill Drilling Tools

HSBC Scottish Exporter of the Year
in association with Scottish Enterprise
Winner: John McGavigan

Published: 19 June 2017

Article by Peter Ranscombe
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