A key government adviser on trade and industry has described a Burnley company as a “star” exporter.
Mr Clive Drinkwater, North-West director of UK Trade and Investment, visited What More UK Ltd as part of Export Week, which aims to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 and get 100,000 more companies exporting.
Mr Drinkwater said: “The country’s biggest manufacturing region is the North-West and Lancashire the key area in that region.
“Particularly here in East Lancashire, there are some great companies producing great products by great engineers.
“What More is a star example of what can be achieved through exporting and should serve as an inspiration to others.
“If every company in the region could add or gain one export market it would add £2 billion to the North-West economy.
“We recently achieved our target of reaching 1,000 new exporters in the North-West over the last year, and I believe our Export Champions have helped us reach our goal.”
Established in 1999, What More is the UK’s largest manufacturer of plastic home, gardening and storage products, under the brand name WHAM. The business employs 165 people at its base at Shuttleworth Mead Business Park, Padiham, and new ditribution and manufacturing centre in Altham.
Five years ago, the company’s only export market was the Republic of Ireland, and director Tony Grimshaw began to work with UKTI international trade adviser Peter Thompson to try to increase overseas trade and improve profits.
Today, What More’s products are recognised all over the world and it currently exports to 48 countries, including the Far East, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA, although Europe, particularly France and Germany, are its main markets.
This year the company has been chosen as one of UKTI North West’s Export Champions – businesses who will inspire those new to international trade.
Mr Grimshaw said: “What More’s export turnover is currently 14% and is still growing. We are investing in the business and have recently significantly invested in new production facilities, with the final stages due for completion in the next three months, giving 450,000sq. ft. of production and distribution.
“It is incredible, considering that five years ago we were barely exporting. Peter Thompson has been an incredible help to us, always on hand with advice and information.
“We have completed the UKTI courses including Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth.
“We have used our networks well, and would encourage any other companies looking to expand overseas to do the same. UKTI have helped, as have the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and the British Home Enhancement Trade Association.”