Colonial Gifts, Padiham

PADIHAM’S Colonial Gifts Ltd can now rightfully stake a claim to be part of the world’s largest floral delivery service.

Better known as iflorist, the firm recently secured a contract to operate all international orders for the NASDAQ-listed

Its strong online presence can be attributed to a host of websites that incorporate a number of customer-friendly systems.

A bespoke order management system which enables florists to view, accept and change the delivery of their orders is available in seven languages and 10 currencies.

It gives local florists unrivalled accuracy in estimating their delivery times for customers - with a global 98.4 per cent delivery success rate. A dedicated customer service department is behind a 24/7 online chat facility to help customers with problems, staffed by operators fluent in seven languages. The department also produces written material for blogs, forums and trade publications, meaning it is expert not only in floristy but also in customer service.

So how does a company founded six years ago and employing 18 in the tiny town of Padiham blossom into a dominant force in the international floristry trade?

Co-founder and Managing Director David Price puts it down to ‘good old Northern spirit’.

He said: “When we started up, the thinking was that if the things aren’t coming to us, we’ll have to go out and get them. “And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“In business terms the internet has made the world a smaller place.”

Dynamax Technologies, Blackburn

FOUNDING director Howard Smith believes it’s a sign of the times that Dynamax Technologies is reaching out to more consumers than ever before – some 30 million every week.

The digital signage providers produce the software that commuters see everyday used in bus shelters and the train network to bring adverts to life.

Dynamax and education technology experts Promethean were once one and the same under the banner of TDS before long-term employee Mr Smith formed Dynamax in 1998.

Now boasting more than 12,000 licenses and contracts with a host of top media and advertising firms - including JCDecaux UK – the firm has created its own ‘mini-digital broadcast system’. Mr Smith said: “We’re constantly on our toes to remain ahead of the game. When we made the break away in 1998, we were effectively doing digital signage before digital signage existed as a market.

“Our software is not just as simple as creating a playlist of adverts to go out – iTunes could do that. They’re smart, tailored to carry out complex business processes and to target different demographics.

“We can work with stand-alone screens but we’re best designed for people serious about having a network of screens.”

Twelve staff help the company operate around the world – 75 per cent of business is done in the UK but South America is an emerging market.

Senator International, Altham

AWARD winning products for the care home industry have seen Altham-based Senator International earn a reputation for innovation.

Teal, Senator’s care home brand, has introduced two very special products to control infection and aid in the comfort of residents.

Their Salus chair won the innovation award at Neocon in 2012 as it’s impermeable surface has an anti-microbial finish for hygiene.

It is designed to provide posture and lumbar support to patients while its ‘smart seat’ provides zonal pressure relief. Designed by Tim Wallace, there are installations of Salus at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Salford Hope Hospital, MMUH Dublin and Royal Blackburn Hospital.

It is made up of only five parts, no fabric joints or stitching which eliminates surfaces around the sides and under the chair that normally trap dust and dirt. The specialised nature of much of their furniture means that Senator need highly specialised software for their computer systems. Chairman of the company Colin Mustoe said technology and innovation were an integral part of how they operate.

He said: “It is critical we have our own IT department and we write our own software.

“We are a very complicated business, or businesses, and if we were to use an off-the-shelf system, it simply wouldn’t work.

“We have done our own software for 25 years, and have an amazing team who focus on making that happen for us.”

The firm, which began in 1976 providing basic office chairs owes recent success to branching into specialist healthcare and educational markets.

Group turnover last year broke through the £100million mark for the first time.