Family soap business wins international business award

19th January

Sussex-based soap and luxury products manufacturer Christina May is celebrating after winning the International Business of the Year category of the South East Region Federation of Small Business Awards 2020, sponsored by Lovetts Solicitors, and being named a finalist in the Good Retail Awards 2021*.

Multi award-winning Christina May now manufactures and exports a range of products to every continent apart from antarctica under The English Soap Company brand as well as under white label.

Winning team: Ailsa and Oliver Butts with their latest business award

Last year the family business celebrated 20 years since it was launched by Bob and Juliet Butts from their kitchen. Christina May’s turnover now exceeds £3 million with all production taking place from a factory near Heathfield in rural East Sussex.

Today the company is run by Managing Director Oliver Butts and employs 47 staff while continuing to grow and innovate.

Oliver said: “We are all absolutely delighted to have won another prestigious award for our success and get this type of recognition. The team has worked incredibly hard with the help of the Department for Trade and Industry to expand our overseas customer base, market our brand and build our reputation around the globe.

“It has been very challenging during the pandemic with not being able to travel, but we have managed to adapt and introduce new products such as scented hand sanitisers to the range which have proved extremely popular.”

The FSB awards follows success during 2020 in the regional Institute of Directors Awards – winning the Family Business category – and also being named a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Christina May Ltd, best known for its English Soap Company brand, 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, which is based in Waldron, near Heathfield, 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 47 staff deal with everything from production to the packaging design, wrapping and boxing up for distribution.