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Award-winning Sean Ramsden on the entrepreneurial evolution of the family business

GRIMSBY’S grocery export specialist Sean Ramsden has been named Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year at the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017.

Award-winning Sean Ramsden on the entrepreneurial evolution of the family business

The multi-award winning businessman was delighted to receive the latest accolade, recognising a strong culture developed within the Adam Smith Street headquarters of a now global operation.

Although not able to make the glitzy Manchester event, he is looking forward to being united with the gong soon, having succeeded in other categories previously.

Mr Ramsden said: “I like to think Ramsden International is quite a good story, it is an interesting business. We have secured continued growth over 20 years to a now market-leadership position, and we have a lot of exciting plans for the future, and a very positive culture in the company that we have managed to build. 

“We put a lot of effort in to being a good employer and one of the reasons for the success is the commitment of the people who work for us. It is very important.

“We have also previously won food and drink and international categories, so to have won the family business category this year gives us a full-house of categories we are eligible for, which is great.”

From a single office, Ramsden now has six – Johannesburg, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Toronto and Dubai – with a team of 22 customer service advisers speaking 16 different languages in Grimsby.

A third generation Ramsden feeding into the wider retail sector, he recognises the ‘family’ accolade resonates in more than one way when it comes to activity in the town, and the wider northern Lincolnshire area.

“We are definitely a family business, and as a family, we have grown a new business with each generation,” he said. His grandfather Ron, first opened a hardware store to serve the town, father Dudley embraced food and wholesale – co-founding Nisa – to serve a nation, while Sean has gone global. 

“That adds a niche dimension to it all,” he said. “Traditionally a family business is one company that is passed down, in our case it is a different business formed with each generation, each having developed something new.”

Nisa Retail is now the key supplier for more than 23,500 product lines that Ramsden International exports, and with the recent £137.5 million acquisition by The Co-op approved by members, Mr Ramsden, a former director, said: “I think it is an exciting time for Nisa and The Co-op, and our relationship, we are very positive about that development,” he said.
Another fixture in the news is Brexit and again positivity abounds.

“It is a consideration for us,” he said. “Most of our business is non-European, but we are cautiously optimistic that the European business will be positively impacted because of the exchange rate factor. There may well be additional complexity dealing with exports, but that complexity has led to the expertise which we have built our success on.”

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