Dragons' Den craft wool specialist eyes overseas expansion
A Yorkshire craft wool company which gained backing on TV’s Dragons’ Den has plans to grow turnover by 70 per cent this year through export sales.
Wool Couture secured investment from the BBC show’s Touker Suleyman and Teg Lalvani in 2018. The company went on to expand its range, which includes specialist wools, craft kits and accessories produced at its headquarters in Barnsley.
The craft supplier already sells directly to customers overseas via its website and e-commerce platforms. With direct sales to countries including Germany, Australia and the US, the firm now hopes to grow exports further by developing new retail and distribution networks.
At present, exports represent a quarter of the firm’s £700,00 turnover but working with both the Department for International Trade and Yorkshire-based International Trade Advisers (ITAs), Wool Couture aims to increase export sales to £1.2m.
In particular, the firm has the substantial US market set firmly in sight with plans to target partners in the hobby and gifting sectors in order to grow its American presence.
“The US is a market that’s particularly attractive because of its sheer volume of consumers,” explained Claire Gelder, founder of Wool Couture.
Adding: “Building a network of distributors and retailers is set to help significantly boost our turnover.”
Along with unveiling the company’s export plans, Claire praised the support and advice Wool Couture received while establishing its export strategy.
“It’s extremely beneficial to be able to draw on the expertise of trusted advisers and consultants, and exporting is no exception. It’s been incredible to be able get the advice we need from the team at DIT,” she said.
She added: “Along with the US, we also have our eye on markets including Japan and China where there’s demand for our products. In 2018 we exported our goods from Yorkshire to more than 42 countries around the world. If we can export, others can too.”
Wool Couture plans to bring an additional four staff into the business to help support its export ambitions, taking the firm’s headcount to 12.
Mark Robson, head of region (Yorkshire & the Humber) at DIT, said: “Wool Couture is a great example of a Yorkshire business that’s built its growth strategy around exporting, and has made the most of the extensive support available.
“Each export market can pose its own challenges, but we’re on hand to help businesses of all sizes make the most of overseas demand. This includes support from our colleagues based in embassies and consulates around the world.
“Last year, businesses across Yorkshire & the Humber exported £18.1bn of goods overseas, 7.8 per cent more than the year before.
“We know that exporting can help businesses become more profitable and more resilient, which is why I’m encouraging anyone interested in taking their first, or next, export step to get in touch with our team today.”
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