The Queen has honoured online lingerie and sex toy retailer Lovehoney with a top award.
Lovehoney has received the Queen’s Award for International Trade for outstanding growth in overseas sales over the last three years.
Owners Richard Longhurst and Neal Slateford will be attending a reception held by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on July 14.
They received the award 14 years to the day from when they started trading online with stock kept in Longhurst’s home in Bath.
Now Lovehoney has a turnover of £60 million and employs more than 250 people all over the world. A third of all its sales are lingerie and, as well as its in-house lines, it sells lingerie from the likes of Leg Avenue, Oh La La Cheri and Seven ’til Midnight.
It has boosted sales of lingerie by teaming up with MTV stars such as Marnie Simpson from Geordie Shore and Chloe Goodman from Ex On The Beach to promote new ranges.
The award – described as ‘the highest accolade for business success’ – allows Lovehoney to use The Queen’s Award emblem in advertising, marketing and on packaging for a period of five years as a symbol of quality and success.
Slateford said: “It’s a huge privilege for Lovehoney to be honoured by the Queen.Official recognition from the Queen as she celebrates her 90th birthday shows just how far we have come as a company and how far sexy lingerie and sex toys have been embraced by mainstream shoppers.
“This award will help us to reach new markets and create more jobs both in Bath and in our global offices.
“The Queen is Britain’s greatest trade ambassador and consumers trust a brand with her patronage. Long may she reign over us.”
Profits at Lovehoney shot up 79% last year to £3.7 million and it was highlighted as one of Britain’s top 100 most profitable private companies by the Sunday Times.
Lovehoney’s global expansion was boosted by winning the official licence to make all official Fifty Shades of Grey sex products four years ago.
It has developed several ranges with E L James, author of the trilogy.
Overseas sales almost trebled last year from £4.5 million to £12 million following the launch of new websites for the French, German and Australian markets and customers paying in Euros.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The Queen’s Awards are a great way of celebrating the best of British business.
“We are a country full of exciting and innovative businesses that deserve to be celebrated. I’d like to commend all the winners for their hard work in creating jobs and driving our growing economy.”
Lovehoney was named the UK’s Favourite Lingerie Retailer at the 2015 UK Lingerie Awards in January.