Helen and Lisa Tse, chinese sauce manufacturers, have both won a Member of the British Empire (MBE) award in the 2014 New Year’s honours list.
The siblings were able to start their business after impressing the panel on the Dragon’s Den TV programme and securing a £50,000 investment.
Lisa Tse, chief executive officer of Sweet Mandarin and head chef, and Helen Tse, director of the business, won their awards for their services to the food and drinks sector.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Helen Tse described winning the award as a “massive surprise” and she thanked the people of Manchester for all their support.
Helen Tse told the newspaper: “I don't know who put our names forward. We did send some to the Queen a while ago and were amazed to get a letter back saying that they were very special.
“Who knows, maybe that had something to do with it! We owe it to the people of Manchester for getting behind our business and supporting us.”
The honours award has followed the sisters’ incredibly successful trade visit to China with the prime minister, David Cameron, in November last year. During the visit the siblings signed an export deal for their three unique sauces, valued at £6 million over the next five years.
Sweet Mandarin sauces are all gluten, nut and dairy free, which means all lovers of chinese food can enjoy them.
Speaking in November, Helen Tse told FoodManufacture.co.uk that Mr Cameron’s intervention had helped their company with the deal, which will lead to the creation of 15 new jobs.
The sisters have estimated that they have a huge market of between 600 million and 700 million people in China. The UK market for their sweet chilli, sweet and sour and barbecue sauces is around 77 million people.
They have also been able to expand their business to the United Arab Emirates in a deal worth approximately £500,000 a year.
The Tse sisters, from Oldham in Greater Manchester, were able to launch their sauce manufacturing business after securing backing from Dragon’s Den investors Duncan Bannatyne and Hilary Devey in the BBC2 TV show broadcast in September 2011.