A HUSBAND and wife team who sell promotional items have been named North West Family Business of the Year at the E3 Business Awards held at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The Branded Items Group (BIG) based at Alexandra Business Park, on Prescot Road impressed a panel of independent business leaders, with their growth, personal approach to customers and their overall business story.

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The family-owned business is run by husband and wife Steve and Louise Fairhurst, and provides more than 15,000 promotional items and branded merchandise products, from USB sticks and pens to branded clothing.

After launching in January 2017 initially selling just one range of products, BIG has grown and expanded to now supply more than 500 customers across the UK, as well as companies in Sweden, Germany and Ireland.

Louise Fairhurst said: "We took a big risk when we set the business up and we made several sacrifices. I left a well-paid secure job, with no guarantee of a salary to work in the business, but our goal is to build a family business that could create a legacy for our children.

"We were shocked but delighted to win the award as it’s recognition of the hard work we have put in and it’s nice to win it as a St Helens company.”

The business itself, was over two years in the making and only launched after considerable preparation and research into the promotional items industry.

Steve added: “We ran an online test company for two years, selling a narrow band of promotional items before launching the Branded Items Group.

"In the process, we constantly mystery-shopped some of the largest companies in our sector and learned a lot about how they operated. We felt there was a market for a company that delivered old-fashioned customer service and advice, in an industry that, at times, can be too transactional and e-commerce driven.”

Despite working UK wide and with customers like NHS England, Cancer Research and Ministry of Defence, Steve says the business is focused on working with more local companies.

He added: “We are gradually raising our profile locally and are really grateful to be working with some amazing local organisations like St Helens Chamber, The Steve Prescot Foundation, Willowbrook Hospice and St Helens RLFC.

"As a family-owned company, service is the major focus with our business, and we believe this will continue to underpin our growth.”