We spoke to Rayner to ask about their Queen's Awards experience. Here is what they had to say...
Rayner is a very old company, we began in 1910 with an opticians shop, and then in 1949 we manufactured the world’s first intraocular lens (IOL) – a small artificial lens used to replace the clouded natural one that is removed during cataract surgery. We’re the only UK manufacturer of IOLs in the world, with primary competitors many times bigger than us, such as Zeiss, Alcon and Johnson & Johnson. We operate in over 80 countries, half a dozen directly and the rest through a distributor network – nearly 90% of our business is outside the UK.
70 years on from that first IOL and 27 million are now implanted globally every year. Like many industries, we see increasing competition from low cost overseas manufacturers. Because our UK manufacturing costs are higher, we position ourselves as a premium supplier and have always leveraged the high regard of British engineering and quality.
The Queen's Awards for Enterprise
Earlier this year, Rayner was the proud winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) for our patented RayOne injector system that implants the IOL into the eye during surgery. RayOne was designed in the UK, where it continues to be made; it was launched at the end of 2016. RayOne not only allows the injection of the IOL into the eye through the smallest nozzle available but it’s also fully preloaded, which reduces the chance of damage and contamination. Because of RayOne, surgeons and patients are benefiting from safer and more efficient cataract surgery. In May 2019 we sold our one millionth unit.
How the Award has benefited our business
Whilst our award win was still under embargo, we received a comprehensive media kit from The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Office with flexible guidelines to help us maximise the opportunity. We have since proudly added the prestigious emblem to our RayOne packaging (one million per year), sales brochures, website, email signatures and letterhead. We ran several LinkedIn posts when we won the award, which received 5-8 times more engagement than our usual posts.
In terms of benefits of winning the award – we see them primarily in the Americas and UK. It is one thing to say that you are a British manufacturer, it’s another so say that you have a royal seal of approval. Having The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is a real differentiator in an increasingly crowded marketplace, and acts as a door opener with customers. It’s safe to say that you will only ever be advantaged by winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. We like selling award-winning products and customers like buying award-winning products.
And we mustn’t forget about the staff benefits. Particularly during the last few months with COVID-19, winning the award has been a really positive news story. We definitely noticed a buzz amongst employees when the announcement came out. The award is unique and respected worldwide, something that employees want to proudly shout about from the rooftops. RayOne took us 8 years to develop and so it’s only right that the achievement is celebrated.
My gut feeling is that the award will also help us to recruit as well as retain talent at Rayner – who doesn’t want to work for an award-winning business?
Often the £1 million question is whether winning an award increases revenue – directly I would say ‘no’ but indirectly as part of increased brand awareness and equity I’d say ‘yes’.
In 2008 we won The Queen’s Award for International Trade, in recognition of our strong export growth, and we will definitely continue to apply for future awards.
Any advice for future applicants?
The application isn’t short but you can utilise the award for 5 years, so it’s time well spent; it’s also an opportunity to look back at what you have achieved as a business over the prior years.
Should you apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise? Absolutely!
Find out more about Rayner on their website.