HRH The Princess Royal presents The King’s Awards for Enterprise winner trophy at Focus SB

HRH The Princess Royal presents The King’s Award for Enterprise crystal trophy to MD Gary Stevens, Alex Lloyd Zoom Photography Ltd


In April of 2023, Focus SB was honoured to achieve a first ever King’s Awards for Enterprise for International Trade. On Wednesday 22nd November, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Focus SB where she formally presented our Managing Director Mr Gary Stevens with The King’s Awards for Enterprise engraved crystal winner trophy for our achievement in International Trade.

HRH The Princess Royal is introduced to guest Mrs Andrea Randall-Smith, CEO of Little Gate Supported Employment

The Princess Royal arrived at Focus SB’s main factory in St Leonards on Sea and was welcomed by Mr Graham Peters, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex who presented her to distinguished guests Mr Richard Bickersteth, High Sheriff of East Sussex; Councillor Peter Pragnell, Chairman of East Sussex County Council and Councillor Margi O’Callaghan, Mayor of Hastings before Mr Gary Stevens welcomed Her Royal Highness and invited her into the building where he presented The Princess Royal to some of Focus SB’s senior management team: Mr Roger Kemp, our recently retired company chairman and owner; guest Mrs Suzi Baker, PR and social media consultant; Technical Manager Mr Mark Curtis; Head of Strategic Partnerships Mr Duncan Ray; guest Mrs Andrea Randall-Smith, CEO of Little Gate Supported Employment and our General Manager Mr Chris Turner.

The Princess Royal was then invited on a tour of our Napier Road factory by Mr Chris Turner, flanked by Mr Gary Stevens during which she was given electrical accessories product manufacturing process demonstrations and introduced to trainees and apprentices by each departmental group manager, introduced by General Manager Mr Chris Turner; HR and Customer Aftercare Manager Mrs Jo Cloute; Assembly and Warehouse Manager Mrs Val Chandler; Finance Manager and Company Secretary Mr Andrew Lanworn; Sales and Marketing Manager Mr Steve Moss; Operations Support Manager Mr Rob Little and Sales Office Manager Mrs Terri Hoey.

The Princess Royal unveiled a commemorative plaque in our reception area, manufactured by us to mark her visit

Demonstrations included both traditional and robot technology, hand finishing including spray painting and component hand assembly. Manufacturing processes included demonstrations by Senior Specials Machinist Mr Damian Hoey (laser marking); Specials Machinist Mr Adam Simpson; Engineering Operative Mr Roland Caughey and Senior Engineer Mr Nick Howe (CNC machining of brass plates); Engineering Operative Mr Neil Matthews (partnership products assembly); Finishing Supervisor Mr Trevor Saunders, Finishing Assistant Supervisor Mr Miguel Stock Delgado and Finisher/Sprayer Operative Mr Rob Secord (robotic polishing cell, polishing shop, degreasing, auto lacquering finishing line, hand spray painting); Assembly and Warehouse Manager Mrs Val Chandler and Senior Assembler Miss Jo Kellaway (assembly and packing); Finishing Operatives Mr Shane Jones and Mr Ash McHugh, Engineering Operative, Mr Alan Barrett (hand finishing).

Her Royal Highness greeted employees from each department, including apprentices and trainees (with their job coaches) from Little Gate Supported Employment, after which she proceeded to one end of the factory where all staff were assembled for a formal presentation of The King’s Awards for Enterprise winner trophy to Mr Stevens introduced by Mr Andrew Blackman, Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex.

Sales Office Manager Mrs Terri Hoey presents gifts
to HRH The Princess Royal

The Lord-Lieutenant welcomed the attending guests and invited The Princess Royal to give a short speech of congratulations and present The King’s Awards for Enterprise engraved crystal trophy to Mr Stevens, who accepted the award on behalf of Focus SB, giving a short speech of thanks. He then invited Mrs Terri Hoey to present Her Royal Highness with gifts comprising a Sussex trug containing a beautiful floral arrangement of locally grown flowers from Sussex Cutting Garden, part of the Flowers from the Farm organisation which champions British flowers (growers in the group supplied cut flowers to the florist chosen for The King’s coronation) presented with honey from a beehive sponsored by Focus SB at SW Honey Farms and a wreath of flowers grown and handmade by the trainees at Little Gate Farm. Sussex Cutting Garden also provided an attractive floral arrangement to decorate our reception area for the occasion.

Senior Engineer Mr Nick Howe is to celebrate 50 years service in 2024

Our MD then invited The Princess Royal back to Focus SB’s reception to unveil a commemorative plaque manufactured by us to mark her visit.

Design industry guests joining Focus SB to share in this prestigious moment for the company included Mr Grant Pierrus, Interior Style Hunter and Mrs Sophie Harper, editor Hospitality Interiors magazine who delighted in joining us in celebrating this very special occasion!

With former Chairman Mr Roger Kemp and Senior Engineer Mr Nick Howe given a special mention during his award acceptance speech, Mr Gary Stevens commented: “It was an absolute honour to host HRH The Princess Royal at our factory in Hastings and to receive our King’s Award from her. I think she spoke to virtually every member of staff and was very knowledgeable. What a year for Focus SB and me personally, getting to meet The King, a Princess and a Duchess! We were delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Focus SB to present us with our King’s Awards for Enterprise for International Trade trophy in person. This visit rounds off one of the most exciting years in the company’s history.”

He continued: “It’s a huge honour for an SME based in Hastings to have the recognition of a King’s Award, one of the most prestigious awards a company can be bestowed, but in addition to that, meeting The King at Buckingham Palace and then to have a visit from The Princess Royal is a huge boost and reward for every single employee at Focus SB, without whom, none of this would have been possible. I have been in manufacturing of electrical products all of my career and I started off as a 16-year-old technical apprentice and have worked my way through various businesses from technical to marketing, sales and general management and I have been an MD of two manufacturing companies, including currently with Focus SB.”

An Export Champion for Southern England (Department for Business & Trade 2023/24 Export Champions programme), Mr Stevens concludes: "I am passionate about manufacturing and introducing more young people into manufacturing and encouraging them to take up apprenticeships, I would like to think that we are doing our bit here at Focus SB by working with local educational establishments, employment agencies and local charities to fulfil that goal, and that my own journey can act as a beacon for those young people who may be thinking about a career in manufacturing and what can be achieved. After all, manufacturing accounts for 2.6 million jobs in the UK and we are the 8th largest manufacturing country in the world!”

His Majesty King Charles III congratulates Mr Gary Stevens
at Buckingham Palace

Focus SB is one of 148 organisations nationally to win a prestigious King’s Awards for Enterprise (announced Friday 21 April 2023), with the company recognised for its excellence in international trade. A total of 149 Awards are made with one company being recognised with two awards.

Employing 65 people, Focus SB Ltd was set up in 2000 and is a manufacturer of wiring devices. In 2017 we made history in our industry when we became the first and only European manufacturer to gain CQC factory accreditation to supply and sell wiring accessories directly from Europe to mainland China, also gaining full CCC licence for all of our products for the Chinese marketplace.

Mr Gary Stevens, Managing Director says: “Winning The King's Awards for Enterprise is not only an endorsement of the hard work that we have done in building our export market, but it is also one of the highest accolades a business can achieve. To provide some perspective, only two companies from East Sussex were awarded the Queen's Award title in 2022, and only one of those was for International Trade. I’m thrilled that this year sees us flying the flag for East Sussex in the first ever King's Awards for Enterprise! For an SME like Focus SB, this award could potentially help to support our strategy for global reach and accelerate our growth in overseas markets, future proofing our business.

"Over the years, Focus SB has been associated with supplying its products to heritage buildings, including some Royal residences and now, having received this prestigious award, it feels like the icing on the cake and recognition by the highest in the land for all the hard work that the company has achieved!”

Mr Stevens continues: “Focus SB looks set to provide real prospects to resident job seekers in the local community and Hastings area, which is one of the more deprived coastal towns in Sussex, despite being one of the richest in culture and diversity.” Read about our MD's experience on meeting His Majesty King Charles III at the Buckingham Palace Reception for King’s Awards winners.

Visit our company story to view a full gallery of images of the royal visit.

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