A RAMSBOTTOM businesswoman who heads two thriving companies which exports to nearly 70 countries worldwide has been awarded the MBE.

The glittering tribute, in recognition of her services to the UK economy, comes nearly six years after entrepreneur Tracy Mort launched Grace Cole, which commands a £7.5 million turnover and employs a 21-strong staff.

The business distributes toiletry gift sets to a number of popular UK high street stores, including Superdrug and John Lewis, as well as to 68 countries overseas.

Nearly a year ago, the mother-of-one established a sister company, Affinity Bay, offering premium toiletry products. Both businesses are based in Cheadle, Cheshire, and Mrs Mort is managing director of both firms.

After previously working as a head buyer for a toiletry gift company, the 38-year-old decided to set up her own business early in 2007. Grace Cole, which has more than 200 products in its portfolio, is involved in the design, formulation and selling of toiletry products which are sub-contracted for manufacture in Britain and China.

Last year, Grace Cole spent £70,000 on exhibiting overseas and 60 per cent of its turnover was achieved through exports.

The businesswoman lifted the North West British Chambers of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2011 and Mrs Mort and her team have also won a clutch of other equally prestigious accolades.

She has also established herself as an ambassador for women in business while, additionally, being heavily involved in charitable and voluntary work since 1997.

Mrs Mort said she was delighted at being awarded the MBE and credits UK Trade and Investment as being the prime movers behind the honour.

She said: “When I heard about it, I was in shock and overwhelmed. You just don’t expect something like this and I’m really pleased.”

In terms of the export market and customers, they love anything British and, particularly, the Royal Family.

It’s just amazing.”