SME Spotlight: Export success no red herring for murder mystery games business

RISING export sales at specialist murder mystery games and events provider Red Herring Games in Grimsby have prompted its founders to push for further international success by looking into appointing franchise partners for both current and future markets.

Almost 50% of sales achieved by Grimsby-based company are now overseas in markets such as the USA with plans by founders Jo Smedley and Emma Fairhall to expand further afield into new territories including Australia and New Zealand.

Recent appointments abroad included organising a murder mystery event with a theme of 1920s for a wealthy individual in Hawaii and another for the Young Presidents’ Association in Aswan, Egypt, again based on the 1920s.

Proving to be particularly popular with clients in the run-up to Christmas are festive-season themed games entitled ‘Twas The Death Before Christmas and A Christmas Cracker Killing.

Having enlisted the expertise of Department for International Trade (DIT) Yorkshire and the Humber international trade advisors to help build their business abroad, they are now working with DIT to analyse the pros and cons of selecting franchise partners for existing and potential export markets.

Ms Smedley founded Red Herring Games in 2007 after developing game formats and writing games for other businesses and has since been accepted into membership of the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association.

Ms Fairhall joined the business in 2014 as events manager after years of experience managing events and trade fairs for other firms.  
The duo based at Wellowgate, write, design, manufacture and distribute their widening range of murder mystery games and organise and host the related events for private and corporate events.

Ms Smedley said: “We export all the time to both corporate and individual clients with many orders coming to us via Amazon. Our main market is the US but we are testing the waters in Australia first and enlisting the expertise of DIT in Yorkshire and the Humber to assess the possibility of appointing franchise partners for both current and future markets.

“I have to say that DIT advisors have proved to be absolutely invaluable in working with us to identify and exploit opportunities to trade abroad. While we’re delighted to see between 40% and 50% of our sales going overseas and growing, we’re not resting on our laurels and want to achieve even greater export success.”

Mark Robson, regional director for DIT Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The entrepreneurial exporting spirit in Yorkshire and the Humber burns brightly thanks to the ambitions of people such as Jo and Emma at Red Herring Games. We have worked with them on a long-term basis and the success we have helped them to achieve just goes to prove that the demand is out there and you should be too.

“Exporting is different but not difficult, with Jo and Emma showing that businesses ranging in size from small and medium-sized enterprises to major corporations can all enjoy and share the benefits of business overseas.”