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Solid Energy Wins Exporter Of The Year

Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd Wins Supreme Exporter Of The Year

New Zealand’s Supreme Exporter of the Year is Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd, the country’s largest coal producer and a company that has achieved sustained export-led growth, underpinned by product and market diversification.

The Christchurch-based company produced a record 4.09 million tonnes of coal in 2003, exporting over half of that to 12 countries, generating a record $180 million in foreign exchange and a net profit of $56 million.

The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Export Awards were presented at a gala dinner in Auckland on Friday 23 July. The Export Awards are sponsored by DHL Express.

Solid Energy, which outperformed 22 other finalists to be named New Zealand’s top exporter for 2004, also won the Niche Manufacturing Exporter of the Year award.

The Export Awards’ judges said Solid Energy was an innovative and sustainable business that had demonstrated a remarkable turnaround since the Asian economic crisis devastated its business in 1999.

“They understand the need to add value to survive in the primary production sector. They are really selling “value-added” rather than a lump of coal. This is how they have not only survived, but created a highly profitable organisation. They have also identified their competency and concentrated on that, outsourcing non-core activities such as transportation and packaging.”

The judges also commended Solid Energy on its environmental management, which they said along with a focus on its people supported the growth of the business.

Solid Energy International Marketing Manager Simon Doig says an indicator of the company’s success is its year on year increase in exports despite the strong appreciation of the New Zealand dollar and volatile international markets.

“Understanding the technical requirements of our customers and our ability to meet their precise product specifications has been integral to achieving sustained and continuous export growth,” he says.

While the company has retained a core base of Asian customers on long-term contracts it has also secured significant contracts in South Africa, India and South America for both thermal and coking coals.

Solid Energy extracts all export coal from its West Coast mines. In total the company employs 500 staff and 250 contractors across seven underground and opencast mines on the West Coast, in Southland, Waikato and at is office in Christchurch.

Export Awards were also presented across seven other categories. The judges commented on the strong leadership and entrepreneurial approach of the Export Award winners.

"These are innovative enterprises whose export success is underpinned by impressive systems and a huge amount of passion to win. Large and small, these outstanding businesses place a high value on people and building relationships with staff, customers, suppliers and distributors. They all offer valuable lessons for other companies."

The New Image Group, a health supplement exporter based in Manukau, is the Agritech, Life Sciences and Biotechnology Exporter of the Year. Sales have exploded by 400% in two years, with the company earning revenue of more than $14 million in 2003, driven by the success of its colostrum products. The New Image Group exports to 15 countries in Asia and Europe. The company is a strategic exporter that’s aggressively pursued international distribution opportunities.

Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd is the Creative and Design Exporter of the Year. The Auckland-based company achieved record foreign exchange earnings of $7.7 million in 2003, generated largely through the success of Sails Literacy, its leading-edge learning system for children. The company has also achieved international success with Witi Ihimaera's book The Whale Rider, which it has sold into 19 countries, boosting sales by delivering an edition of the book linked to the movie adaptation. Auckland company Outlook Baby Shade, a finalist in the Creative and Design category, received a Judges Commendation for its innovative approach and customer focus.

Wellington High School is the Education Exporter of the Year. International students generated a record $1.7 million for this entrepreneurial school in fees and accommodation in 2003. Wellington High School is a strategic exporter that’s gained economically, culturally and academically from its international programme. It has developed unique software to manage all aspects of its international enrolment and home stay payments and has sold this software to 35 other New Zealand schools

Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough is the Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year. When Queen Elizabeth II hosted a lunch recently for the likes of Kate Moss, Baroness Margaret Thatcher and Heather Mills McCartney, a Sauvignon Blanc from Palliser was on the menu. That kind of clever exposure has helped this small, profitable Wairarapa winery grow its annual turnover to $6 million – about 50% generated from exports to 18 countries.

Pulse Data International is the Information and Communications Technology Exporter of the Year. The Christchurch company has increased revenue threefold since 1998 and is a world leader in the design and manufacture of innovative technology products for the blind and visually impaired. Annual revenue of almost $50 million is almost all generated from exports. Pulse Data International, which has about 150 staff, has invested a significant amount in expanding its international operations, including acquisitions and strategic alliances.

CRMS Consulting Ltd is the Services Exporter of the Year. The Auckland consultancy helps big pharmaceutical companies improve their sales and profitability through more effective use of sales and marketing resources. The company has established itself as a market leader in Australia and in the past year has successfully targeted the Japanese market. It recorded 186% growth in turnover in 2003/04, almost all from exports. Critical success factors are its people, proprietary methodologies and processes, networks and relationships, flexibility and customer focus

Jenkin Timber is the Wood Processing, Building and Interiors Exporter of the Year. This West Auckland family business has come a long way since it was established in 1922, achieving $21 million in exports last year and 20% year-on-year growth for the past three years. The company is a leading innovator, manufacturer and exporter of value-added finger-jointed and solid wood radiata pine products to Australia, Japan and more recently the USA. It places a high value on its staff.

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