Brompton get royal seal of approval

By Richard Peace | Thursday, April 22, 2010 9.05am

The achievements of British folding bike specialists Brompton have been recognised with two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, in the Innovation and International Trade categories.

The Innovation award has been made in recognition of the continued improvements to the design and manufacture of the Brompton over many years – incremental, often small changes to a design that is basically the same as inventor Andrew Ritchie’s first batch of pre-production bikes.

He built these virtually single-handedly in 1981 (crafting many parts by hand) after failing to find backing for the project from any large company, and sold them to investors. There have been almost countless improvements over the years, and four different ‘Marks’. Two of the biggest changes came in 2000 in the shape of the Mark 3, which included an overhaul of tyres, brakes, lights and colour scheme (among much else), and in 2005 when the Mark 4 saw titanium variants introduced.

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The award in the International Trade category is Brompton’s second, and comes 15 years after their first award in 1995. It’s been earned for consistent increases in export revenues over the past six years (up 184 percent), creating over 60 jobs and accounting for two-thirds of production output. From that initial pre-production run of 50 bikes, annual Brompton production now stands at over 20,000 – all made in their West London factory.   

Will Butler-Adams, managing director of Brompton Bicycle Ltd, said: "In 1995, as a fledgling company led by the inventor Andrew Ritchie, Brompton were honoured with the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. That award gave the staff and distributors great pride and enthusiasm as it recognised the success of this London-made folding bike. That team, augmented by a further 90 staff, have worked hard over the intervening 15 years to turn that early triumph into a long-lasting British manufacturing success story.

"All of us at Brompton are immensely proud and honoured by the recognition of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in both the International Trade and Innovation categories. Our aims today remain the same as they ever were: to make great folding bikes that do everything and more that is asked of them, made here in London and enjoyed the world over."

Earlier this year, Mr Ritchie was made an MBE for services to business and international trade in the New Year's honours.

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