Queen’s Award has shoe manufacturer dancing for joy

Apr 28, 2020

Justin Patel, managing director of International Dance Shoes, and his father Rashmi who founded the company in 1981.

A MANUFACTURER that supplies dance shoes to the TV show Strictly Come Dancing and is preparing to mark its 40th anniversary next year has early reason to celebrate after winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

International Dance Shoes, which has been making ballroom and Latin dance shoes in Milton Keynes since 1981, has received the Queen’s Award for International Trade. Overseas business now makes up the majority of the company’s turnover, said managing director Justin Patel.

“We are very pleased and it is a welcome distraction from the current state of the world,” he added. “It is such a prestigious award and the very best recognition that a business can get so we are immensely proud but just sad we cannot celebrate with our whole team as many are furloughed and staying safe at home.”

International Dance Shoes was opened by Justin’s father Rashmi nearly four decades ago in a unit at Bradwell Abbey. 

Expansion took the company first to a larger unit nearby then to its current manufacturing premises at Stonebridge.

Demand has always been strong because of the UK’s reputation for quality manufacturing. “While our market is niche, it is very international,” said Justin. “This side of our business still accounts for the majority of our sales, and we have really kicked on since opening up the direct-to-consumer channel online.”

Because of coronavirus, International Dance Shoes has been closed since late March and the company’s 35 staff remain at home. Justin said: “The plan has been to maintain this great form we have been in  so this coronavirus outbreak has been a real pain. But the health of our team, customers and everyone around the world is more important at this time.”

The company has been working to enhance and improve its existing products and develop new designs for its existing niche and new ranges. These plans are on hold.  “2020 will go down a strange year but we hope to return to normality soon,” said Justin. 

The business has recently recruited a representative in China. “There is still so much potential there to unlock,” said Justin. “There is certainly more business to be had across our already established markets so we just need to work hard to achieve this.”

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

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