Connecting exporters from the Leeds City Region

Dragon-Backed business aims for export growth

Wool Couture, a Barnsley-based craft supplies specialist backed by two Dragons' Den investors, has announced plans to boost turnover by more than 70 per cent by increasing overseas sales.

The company, which produces a range of specialist wools, craft kits and accessories, is aiming to grow revenue to £1.2m within the next 12 months.

A quarter of its £700,000 turnover is currently generated by selling directly to customers in overseas markets, including Australia, Germany and the US, via its website and e-commerce platforms.

Having developed additional product ranges, the business is planning to significantly broaden its overseas distribution and retail networks by targeting potential partners in the gifting and hobby sectors, with a particular focus on the huge US market.

In a Dragons’ Den episode which aired in 2017, Wool Couture secured a £50,000 investment for 30% of the business from Dragons Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani.

As well as benefiting from the Dragons’ input, Wool Couture has been supported by Yorkshire-based international trade advisers (ITAs) from the Department for International Trade (DIT) in order to develop its North American presence.

To assist with its expansion, the company plans to employ an additional four staff members, bringing its total headcount to 12.

Wool Couture’s founder Claire Gelder 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 the DIT for Yorkshire & the Humber, added: "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.

"Last year, businesses across Yorkshire & the Humber exported £18.1bn of goods overseas, 7.8 per cent 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."