[Caption: Innis & Gunn has won the Queen's Award for International Trade 2 times now. Can you recall how you first heard about the Awards?]
Dougal Sharp (Managing Director at Innis & Gunn):
Being an international beer business I was very aware of how important the Queen's Awards could be for companies. I knew about it. I heard from people talking about it. You hear about it from newspapers up here. So it was always in my mind that I wanted to enter the Queen's Awards... and it's incredible that we've got 2!
[Caption: What made you want to take that first step and fill out an entry form?]
It was a matter of properly establishing our international business, which we had done by 2010 with some great success. So, you know, we didn't think we had any chance of winning it, but we thought we had a good track record. We had developed a sizable international business, so we just thought we'd give it a go... and amazingly we won.
[Caption: How have things been for Innis & Gunn since winning your 2 Queen's Awards?]
A few things have happened actually. I suppose the biggest one was actually when we went to Buckingham Palace to receive the award this year. We took the president of our Canadian distributor PMA - Peter Nijinsky - and he was absolutely blown away by the fact that he got to go with our chairman to meet the Queen... and to be presented with the award at Buckingham Palace, it was a huge huge thing for him. And our distributor in Canada is a very tribal organisation, and if you invite the head, you're inviting everybody. So it's had a huge positive impact on our business in Canada. But it's also been important for our business around the world, because the the credibility and reassurance that the Queen's award brings to our business... is highly valuable to us.
[Caption: How have you used your Awards to generate interest or publicity for Innis & Gunn?]
A Scottish company having 2 Queens Awards is big news, so the the media very quickly responded once the announcements were made. We got some great coverage up here. It led to some coverage in the national broadsheets in the UK, which is great. And because we had Peter Nijinsky come from Canada, we had a fairly sustained amount of coverage in the Canadian media because of course this is big news - "Canadian man meets Queen in Buckingham Palace". So we had great fun with it. And we're still picking up pieces of coverage in Canada now, months later.
[Caption: Would you say that your Queen's Awards for Enterprise are recognised globally?]
Absolutely. I mean it. It is internationally recognised as as a mark of quality.
For us that's really important, because we deal with a very wide spectrum of customers from small independent retailers, way up to some of the biggest liquour retail businesses in the world. To say that we're a Queen's Award company is absolutely massive. It's a huge thing for us.
[Caption: Have you had much opportunity to use the Queen's Awards emblem?]
Absolutely. It's on our letter head, on our email signatures, and on our business cards. We like to talk about it. And we also like to make sure that our retail partners and our distributors know that we have won this award. As I say, it's really valuable. It's a further stamp of quality for us as a business to be able to communicate that to our customers.
[Caption: What advice would you give to a company thinking of entering the Queen's Awards for the very first time?]
The first thing I would say is definitely do it, because there is nothing but upside.
I suppose the second thing I would say is make sure that you give the application process the due attention that it deserves. Because winning the Queen's Award can be highly valuable for your business and so you need to concentrate when you're actually doing the application. If you do, and you've got a good story to tell, there's every chance you'll win, and that would be a wonderful thing for your business.