Sussex soap company soaks up Japanese export win

Export | Growth | South East

As consumers across the globe become increasingly environmentally conscious, traditional bar soaps are making a resurgence. The UK exported £378.4m worth of soap around the world in 2018.

One traditional English soap manufacturer based in Waldron, East Sussex is already tapping into this global demand having just secured a new export win in Japan estimated to be worth up to £100,000 a year.

Christina May was founded in 2000 after the co-founders discovered vintage soap moulds lying disused in a machinery workshop on a farm. The manufacturers make soaps from pure vegetable oils with the perfumes being made in England and designed specifically for its brand The English Soap Company.

The new deal was a combined result of the company attending trade shows in Hong Kong and Bologna with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and through continuous contact with its Asia-Pacific export manager. The contract is estimated to increase Christina May’s annual turnover by up to 3%.

Oliver Butts, Managing Director at Christina May said: “The prospect of exporting is exciting and perhaps a little daunting, but always fun and a great experience. The paperwork can be an issue in difficult markets which is why we focussed on the easier markets first to build up experience before exporting to the more challenging countries.

“Exporting has also helped us to secure our business against the uncertainty of Brexit as we have diversified our market portfolio across the world so that the impact and any consequences are reduced.

“I would recommend any business that is considering exporting to see how DIT can help. The department has supported us with grants to attend trade shows and just general advice which has allowed us to develop an expansive export strategy and find international success.”

The family-run business located on a farm in the countryside just outside of Heathfield, employs 35 people and currently exports to over 34 markets including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Taiwan and New Zealand. There is a strong demand for the company’s soaps in these countries due to affordability and appreciation for quality made British products, and the business plans to further expand its export markets to include the Middle East, India, South Korea and Indonesia.

With exporting currently accounting for over 55% of Christina May’s annual turnover which has grown from £800,000 to over £3m over the last seven years, exports have remained consistent during this time and has been a key driver of growth for the company.

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