Surreal opens Portuguese office
A successful North East branding consultancy has established its first overseas base after opening a new office in Portugal’s industrial heartland.
More than half of the work undertaken by Surreal over recent years has been focused on continental Europe, with international businesses including Sonae, Nike and Stryker amongst its client base, and setting up an overseas base has been part of the firm’s long-term strategic develop plan for some time.
Surreal’s new premises in northern Portugal’s largest city, Porto, on the Iberian Peninsula, is located close to the headquarters of many of the country’s leading manufacturing businesses, and the agency is aiming to use its new position within the local marketplace to expand the range of work it undertakes both nearby and further afield in Europe.
Surreal’s managing director Ian Smith has already recruited three new employees to work in the Porto office, and interviews are currently ongoing for further posts.
Staff from Surreal’s Houghton-le-Spring and London offices will be spending time on the continent on a regular basis, with Portuguese colleagues also coming across to the UK to help ensure the whole team’s collective knowledge is shared right across the business.
Long-term advisor Stephen Slater of RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, with whom Surreal have chosen to work since the business was set up in 2007, worked on the project with the Surreal management team, while assistance was also provided by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government body which supports British businesses’ exporting efforts.
The 14-strong firm, which recently underwent a rebranding exercise, encompasses a digital arm alongside the design and branding teams on which it was initially based.
Ian Smith says: “Our operations in continental Europe have become more and more important in recent years, and we have a huge amount of practical experience of how to operate in European markets, so investing in an overseas presence from which to build on this was a natural progression.
“As well as being close to one of our biggest existing clients, Porto made perfect sense as the location for our new office for many other reasons.
“It offers a great base in an area where there are many potential business development opportunities for us to target, and as most of the international agencies only have a presence in the south of the country, there are relatively few who offer a strategic marketing approach to the brand experience.
“There’s also a strong intellectual base from which we can draw highly-skilled staff as the business develops, it’s in the same time zone as the UK and English is very widely spoken.
“Being fully part of the local community and sharing knowledge right across our growing team is going to strengthen what we can offer, and we’ve already talking to several major businesses in and around Porto about what we can offer them.
“We chose to work with RMT from the off as we wanted to be able to grow into the range of services they provide as the business evolved, and their support on this project is just the latest example of how they’ve facilitated our development at every turn.”
Stephen Slater adds: “Ian is realising his long-term vision for Surreal through executing a strategic development plan that is both expanding the company’s capabilities and significantly widening its focus from the North East onto new markets.
“The commercial success that the firm is enjoying comes down to a willingness to keep searching for and acting on the next opportunity, and we’re very pleased to be continuing to play our part in Surreal’s evolution.”
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