A FAMILY clothing business which was revived six years ago is beating the recession by selling abroad.
Poppy Ltd, which bases its mainly UK-manufactured designs around a little girl and her adventures, has boosted exports by around 30%.
The business, based in Yarm on Teesside, was started by Bryony Richardson’s parents in 1980 but was allowed to run down by 2000 as the traditional style of children’s clothing it produced went out of fashion.
Ms Richardson, who now runs the company with three fellow directors and two staff, said: “I went home about six years ago to start it again. I just really loved the business.
“It was all part of my childhood and I was passionate about manufacturing in the UK.”
Poppy produces children’s clothing and a small range of adult dresses, inspired by 1950s’ designs and with a little story based on the print.
The business was relaunched just prior to the first wave of the recession and Richardson says looking to overseas markets has helped it stay afloat in difficult times.
“It’s growing all the time and around half of our business is abroad,” she said. “My parents did sell abroad a bit, but they mainly targeted the UK.
“[The recession], I think that’s why it’s ever more important not to rely on one country. By selling abroad, we have lots of different pools to come at from different directions. It was really when we started to export that we thought, maybe we need to expand in a different way.”
The business worked with UK Trade & Investment to build a detailed export strategy that included attending a series of overseas exhibitions in Amsterdam, Florence and New York.
Richardson said: “Thanks to the help we received through the Passport to Export and VEM service, we have been able to establish a successful selling platform in the USA.
“We now have more than 20 stockists and a US-based agent to represent our brand in the States. The response has been excellent. Overall, the export side of our business has increased by at least 30%, largely thanks to the support of Passport to Export.
"While we remain committed to British manufacturing wherever practical – most of our clothing is manufactured in the UK – the UKTI assistance helped us to find a manufacturer for our tights in Turkey, which we are very happy with, as well as a knitwear supplier in Romania. I am confident the latter will be up to our high standards, which is of course a key consideration when dealing with new suppliers.”