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18th May 2015

Export growth is in the bag for County Durham's Furniture Clinic

A HANDBAG and upholstery repair business has reported an 80 per cent jump in overseas sales over the last two years, as the Government launched its latest export drive.

Burnopfield-based Furniture Clinic reported the value of its exports grew from £282,000 in 2012 to £506,000 in 2014, which means overseas deals ow make up 25 per cent of turnover for the firm.

The County Durham firm released the figures to coincide with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Export Week that encourages more businesses to trade overseas.

As part of that campaign that runs this week UKTI has unveiled a First Time Exporters initiative. Businesses will be able to benefit from the expertise of a team of 100 advisers offering, take a six-module online course to help them understand the basics, and attend trade delegations and other events focused on exporting to other parts of the world.

Former Minister for the Cabinet Office and new member of the House of Lords, Francis Maude, who has been appointed to the government as Minister for Trade and Investment, said: "Last year we saw 48,000 companies draw on UKTI support; these businesses went on to create or safeguard 220,440 additional jobs. I would urge businesses of all sizes to use this opportunity to find out more about the services that are available to them through UKTI, regardless of their level of exporting experience."

Furniture Clinic managing director Ben Staerck said exports are now a hugely important part of his firm's strategy.UKTI says that, on average, companies that work with them earn an additional £100,000 worth of sales during the following 18 months.

He added: “Our soaring export growth is the result of hard work from our staff, a strategy in which we were not afraid to push ourselves to the limit to meet demand for large orders, careful production planning and taking advantage of the expertise at UKTI.”

Furniture Clinic used UKTI to identify distributors overseas.

Mr Staerck said: “A good distribution network makes all the difference as your distributors can do a lot of the ground work for you, growing sales in your target countries with as little input from yourselves as possible.”

Furniture Clinic was founded in 2004 by father-and-son team Keith and Ben Staerck, and is now run by Ben who has taken over as managing director.

The firm cleans, restores and repairs leather, wood and fabric goods and furniture.

In addition, spin off company Handbag Clinic, which restores and repairs designer accessories, has opened a store on Kings Road, London.It recently completed a £250,000 expansion of its premises, increasing floor space from 12,500 sq ft to 16,500 sq ft, facilitating an increase in capacity and enabling the business to take on new staff.

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