Family soap entrepreneur shines in regional awards

14th October

Sussex-based soap and luxury products manufacturer Christina May is celebrating this month after winning the Family Business category of Institute of Directors London & South Director of The Year Awards and being a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020.

Winning team: (From left to right) Bob Butts, Ailsa Butts, Oliver Butts and Juliet Butts.

In the IoD awards Managing Director Oliver Butts beat hundreds of other companies to claim the prestigious award which was announced during a virtual ceremony.

The renowned annual IoD London & South Director of the Year Awards took place virtually from the iconic 116 Pall Mall headquarters of the IoD as the Institute joined its 30,000 members in pivoting to deliver an inaugural “covid hybrid” edition.

Judges of the IoD Family Business category said: “The winner has a well-balanced and focused business. We were impressed by the long-term, sustainable approach and balance between business and family engagement.”

“I also want to thank the amazing staff who have been working with me during what has been a very challenging year and has meant growing and evolving to succeed.”

On being named the winner Oliver added: “I am absolutely delighted. Being a family business it certainly wouldn’t have been possible without my mother and father giving me the strong foundations to grow the business and being strong mentors. They have allowed me to fulfil my hopes and aspirations in my working life.

Photo of Oliver Butts
Managing Director Oliver Butts

Dame Esther Ranzten DBE, campaigning Founder of Childline and the Silver Line, journalist and former BBC presenter, gave a passionate speech in support of Childline, an NSPCC life-changing service, for whom the IoD, sponsors and finalists raised funds on the day.

Faisal Khan, IoD South Regional Chair said: “This year’s Awards provided an insight into the incredibly talented and diverse leaders that are helping to power forward their organisations in this dynamic part of the UK, during a year of extreme challenge and need to innovate in short order. The finalists and winners shared valuable insights into what makes an organisation innovate, deliver value and succeed. I am very pleased to have such talented people in the London & South Regions.”

Christina May will receive further exposure and profile on a national stage as the ‘best of the best’ in British business at a celebratory event to be held virtually in December 2020 with several high-profile speakers and sponsors.

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.

English Soap Company products

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.