(L-R) Ali and Claire Gelder, co-owners, Wool Couture
Dragons’ Den favourite craft supply specialist Wool Couture has unveiled plans to grow its turnover with extensive export plans. The business intends to achieve revenue of £1.2m within the next 12 months, thanks to support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Wool Couture produces a range of specialist wools, craft kits and accessories from its headquarters in Barnsley. It currently generates a quarter of its £700,000 turnover from selling directly to customers in overseas markets such as Australia, Germany and the US through its website and e-commerce platforms.
In 2018, two years after it was founded, Wool Couture secured investment from Dragons’ Den stars Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani after featuring on the show. It has since developed additional product ranges and is now planning to significantly expand its overseas distribution and retail networks by targeting partners in the hobby and gifting sectors, with a particular focus on the US due to the market’s potential size.
As well as benefitting from the Dragons’ input, the business has also been working with Yorkshire-based International Trade Advisers (ITAs) from DIT to help develop its North American presence. ITAs in the US and locally have helped the business to identify future trade show opportunities this year and next, as well as identified potential partners.
To aid its expansion, Wool Couture plans to hire an additional four staff, bringing its total headcount to 12.
Claire Gelder, founder of Wool Couture, said: “The US is a market that’s particularly attractive because of its sheer volume of consumers. Building a network of distributors and retailers is set to help significantly boost our turnover.
“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.
“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.”
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% 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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