A Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade has been presented to Luton firm Squirrels UK Ltd.
Managing director David Yolland received the honour from Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, withthe Mayor of Luton, Tahir Khan, also present.
Mr Yolland said: “It was a great honour to receive this honour on behalf of my company. We all appreciate that many people have contributed to this success… our wonderful staff, loyal customers and the support of suppliers.
“Only 243 companies were acknowledged this year with a Queen’s Award which makes it very special that we are one.”
Squirrels, a member of Sugro UK, have been national distributors for 30 years. The company was founded by Ron Yolland, David’s father, in 1970 at Walthamstow Market.
It then expanded into retail stores. David joined the company in 1980 and his brother, Michael, in 1986. At that time, Squirrels developed into the wholesale market distributing confectionery and impulse products to market traders and the discount retail sector.
In 1990 the company started importing a range of exclusive products under their own brand, ‘Thurston’s Fine Foods’. These include confectionery, biscuits, jams, pickles, olives, sauces etc, which are imported from over eight countries. In 2006 Squirrels became sole UK distributors for a range of sugar free biscuits, produced in Spain, under the ‘Gullon’ brand.
In 2007 Squirrels started an export business which has grown impressively, especially over the last three years, which is the period that is evaluated for the presentation of The Queen’s Award. Over this period sales volumes have increased threefold and the company now delivers to over ten countries around the world.
In 2015 Squirrels was acquired by Kitwave Group which operates 15 depots across the UK providing a wide range of wholesale services.
David Yolland remains managing director of Squirrels and is a director of Kitwave.
In 2015, the company also moved from Romford to larger premises at Airport Way, Luton in order to take the company to its next level of development.
Looking to the future, David Yollandsaid: “Our export business will obviously benefit from the falling value of the pound. However The UK wholesale market is tough with rising costs and prices.
“However our customer base is mostly in the discount retail sector, which is a growth market and will further benefit from anticipated increased inflation in the UK.”