120 Year Old Manchester Firm Looks To Seal Export Success

Export | Manufacturing | North West

A Middleton-based gasket and seal manufacturer has opened an office in India to expand its international reach.

J A Harrison, a Manchester heritage company founded 120 years ago to make components for Manchester’s textile mills, produces sealing solutions for customers across a range of industries, including food and drink, aerospace and energy.

The firm has now opened a new office and factory in Chennai, India, in response to a shift in international demand moving from low-cost components towards high-quality precision engineering. In 2017, the company’s export sales to India totalled £150,000.

J A Harrison started working closely with International Trade Advisers from the Department for International Trade (DIT) to develop its export strategy in 2016.

In partnership with Manchester’s Business Growth Hub, DIT helped J A Harrison move to a state-of-the-art £2.8 million manufacturing facility in Oldham. The move created 12 new jobs, with an additional 30 locally-based roles expected to be generated.

Additionally, DIT advised the company on its digital strategy to boost its visibility to overseas customers.

Keith Shepherd, CEO, J A Harrison said: “We’ve had an international presence since the late ’90s, but recently we’ve seen a real boom in our export sales.

“In the Indian and East Asian market, quality has taken over price as a key differentiator and buyers are looking to Britain for its strong global reputation in high-quality engineering. Our international success has led us to open offices in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus and the Czech Republic. Through opening our new factory in Chennai, we hope to further develop our relationships with buyers across Asia.

“Although it’s been profitable, exporting has its challenges. DIT has been hugely supportive in helping us meet potential customers and advising on translators that have helped us communicate with new clients. Our International Trade Adviser has also helped with the rebranding of our business and website which has helped strengthen our image abroad.

“Thanks to its assistance, we’re now standing on our own two feet abroad for the first time. If we can do it, others can too.”

Paul Stowers, head of region for the North West at DIT (Northern Powerhouse), said: “J A Harrison has been quick to recognise the vast demand for British goods overseas. The business is known for the quality of its products, and this has helped it to make a name for itself abroad.

“Exporting isn’t always plain sailing, but DIT is on hand to help businesses make the most of opportunities for growth abroad. We have a network of dedicated International Trade Advisers based on the ground across the North West who can offer support on everything from tax to logistics. I’d urge anyone interested in seeing what exporting can do for their business to get in touch – the support is out there.”

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