Leicester manufacturer becomes first candle maker to win Queen’s Award for International Trade | Manufacturing Growth Programme

Founded in 2012, Urban Apothecary is an exciting British brand, manufacturing luxury home fragrance and body products which are sold in the UK and overseas. Their products range from candles, diffusers, and room sprays to hand and body lotions, to cleansing gels, while stocked in Selfridges, House of Fraser and Next amongst other retailers.

The brand started from founder Tajinder Banwait’s kitchen table before growing into the brand we see today operating from its very own candle factory in Leicester.

Urban Apothecary started from Tajinder’s passion for fragrance and desire to layer traditional ingredients in unconventional, contemporary ways. From an early age Tajinder began a love affair with perfume that continues to this day, believing that every fragrance recounts a personal experience.

The brand first engaged with the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) in 2019 on a marketing project to help them with their international growth. A further project with MGP in 2020 helped them achieve ISO9001, which is the internationally recognized quality management system standard that is designed to help businesses identify areas for improvement.

In the three years up to December 2020, overseas sales have grown by 168% with exports now making up 47% of all sales, with key markets in Germany, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan.

Hard work has paid off, in 2022 they were honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Excellence in International Trade, the most prestigious business award in the UK. They are the first candle brand to win the international trade award in its 56-year history and are one of only 226 organisations to have won the award this year. The International Trade award is only given to organisations that can demonstrate high growth in overseas sales over three years.

Urban Apothecary are a great example of growing a successful business based on export with a global product. With 20 years’ experience in the beauty industry, Tajinder is now a trade ambassador for the Department of International Trade and has presented to other British businesses to inspire them to trade overseas.

Manufacturing Growth Manager for Leicestershire, James Bosworth who worked closely with the business commented: “Having supported this business from the very start, we have seen them grow to an extremely well-known brand and successful business. Persistence in growth and new markets and product innovation has seen them recently be awarded the ‘Queen’s Award’”

As well as winning the Queen’s Award, one of the brand’s key achievements has been manufacturing the candles in-house. After previously using a third party, Tajinder learnt how to make candles from scratch in six months and set up a candle factory in Leicestershire which gave her full control of the business and the quality of the products.

Tajinder offered this advice to other manufacturers: “Engage with the Manufacturing Growth Programme as soon as possible. There is so much more that you can achieve with the assistance.”

Future plans for Urban Apothecary are to continue to grow with a target turnover of £5 million within the next three years through the addition of more global distributors. Their high growth means they are also looking for a bigger premises.

For more information visit https://urbanapothecarylondon.com/

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