Middle East deal boosts turnover for Cheshire design studio

Creative Industries | Export | Growth | North West

A Cheshire-based design studio has seen its turnover grow by 15% after securing a deal with a new export partner in the Middle East.

Marple-based Lewis & Lewis Ltd, which creates designs for textile manufacturers, has grown its turnover to £460,000 thanks to sales in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by home furnishings retail chain Abyat.

The deal has seen Lewis & Lewis’ designs feature across Abyat’s outlets as part of the retailer’s own-brand bedding, cushion and curtain ranges.

In the UK, Lewis & Lewis’ designs are stocked by major brands such as Next, while the company also exports its designs and services to partners in markets including France, Japan, the US and Turkey.

The new Middle Eastern deal came after the two businesses met at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt in January 2018. Lewis & Lewis were able to attend the show thanks to funding from the Department for International Trade (DIT), provided through the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP).

The programme offers grants to British businesses to help meet the costs of attending key trade shows overseas, providing them with a valuable opportunity to meet potential overseas partners or buyers face-to-face.

According to the latest statistics from HMRC, the UK’s exports totalled £342.6bn in the year to March 2019, a rise of almost three and a half per cent on the same period in the 12 months before.

Meanwhile, sales to countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia and Kuwait along with markets such as Oman and the UAE, totalled £13.8bn. Globally, the value of the textile market is predicted to be worth more than $1.2 trillion (£994.7bn) in revenue by 2025, up from $858bn (£711.5bn) in 2018 according to market research company Zion Market Research.

Kevin Lewis, owner of Lewis & Lewis, said: “This deal with Abyat has delivered a significant boost for our business. Design is a part of the Middle East’s cultural heritage, and we’ve noticed demand in the region for more traditional motifs and colours as well as a real appreciation for craftsmanship. As a business with roots stretching back more than 60 years, we have our own archives of more traditional, hand-painted, patterns that we’re able to re-work to directly meet this demand.

“We’ve been active exporters for a number of years but entering into the Middle East has accelerated our progress. Unless you’re able to attend major trade shows like Heimtextil, it can be difficult to get an introduction to major retailers overseas.

“Fortunately, DIT’s financial support paved the way for us to attend, and following the show our local International Trade Adviser (ITA) helped us plan our first trip to visit Abyat in Kuwait. If we can have success in new markets, there’s no reason others can’t too.”

Paul Stowers, head of region for the North West at DIT (Northern Powerhouse), said: “Through its relationship with Abyat, Lewis & Lewis has tapped into the global demand for British goods and services, and is reaping the benefits.

“Making connections with potential export partners can be challenging, but trade shows can be an effective way for businesses to forge new relationships and showcase their goods and services.

“Along with support to help businesses attend trade shows around the world, we have a network of ITAs based across the North West who can offer one-to-one advice on issues ranging from language to logistics.

“I’d encourage anyone interested in seeing how they too can benefit to get in touch with our team today.”

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