English Soap Company shortlisted for Great British Entrepreneur Award

Christina May Ltd, best known for its English Soap Company brand, has been shortlisted in the Family Business category of the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur Awards. The Sussex-based business is one of just four companies shortlisted from across the South East region in the prestigious awards which received some 2,600 entries.

Christina May manufactures more than five million luxury soap bars each year, along with more than 220 other products sold under the English Soap Company brand and also white label. The products are sold through major UK and international retailers, hotel and gift suppliers.

The company was founded in 2000 by Bob and Juliet Butts after they discovered some vintage soap moulds in a machinery workshop in Kent. This coincided with Juliet finding a 25-year-old book about soap making which sparked Bob’s fascination. The couple spent several years creating a soap bar that is smooth and silky in texture, moisturises rather than dries the skin and is infused with a luxurious perfume that lasts until the end of the bar.

Managing Director Oliver Butts joined Christina May in 2012 to work alongside his parents. Bob remains the Senior Director and Juliet is Company Secretary. Ailsa, Oliver’s wife, joined the company as Operations Manager in 2016. Today the company’s 37 staff deal with everything from production to the packaging design, wrapping and boxing up for distribution.

Oliver said: “We are very proud to be a finalist in these high-profile awards and receive recognition for our success. Since I joined the company turnover has quadrupled and the business has transformed. For instance, in 2012 we didn’t have our own English Soap Company brand and had just three or four customers. Now we have some 220 products and 3,000 customers worldwide, from Norway to New Zealand, who appreciate high-quality, hand-made, ethically produced British products with beautiful packaging. Overseas sales have grown by over 50 percent in the last year.

“One of the highlights for me has been working with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on licensed products which has given us security and differentiated us from competitors.”

Founded in 2013, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards acknowledges the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs and businesses in the United Kingdom. Previous winners include the founders of BrewDog, Tangle Teezer, The LAD Bible, Clearscore and The Cambridge Satchel Company.

Judges of the awards include Hayley Parsons, who founded Go Compare, Cath Kidston, Lord Bilimoria of Cobra Beer and Kanya King, the founder of the MOBO awards.

This year, with face to face events challenging, the regional heats will be celebrated online on September 23rd.

Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Francesca James, said: “Given what we’ve seen over the past few months, the 2020 edition of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is arguably the most important. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we celebrate the achievements of the country’s entrepreneurs and their determination in the face of such adversity.

“So many entrepreneurs will have been fighting to keep their business afloat over the past few months, and indeed will be over the coming months. That’s exactly why we launched the Pivot category; to recognise those that have managed to adapt and thrive throughout this period.

“I want to send my congratulations to each and every single entrepreneur who has made it to the shortlist this year, and I wish them the very best of luck for the regional finals.”

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “These entrepreneurs have gone above and beyond in order to allow their businesses to flourish in extremely difficult times and it is a true honour to congratulate each and every one of them.”