UKTI beefs-up pioneering Export Champions scheme

BEAUTY products company Grace Cole has become one of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) North West’s Export Champions, businesses who work with the Government trade body to help more companies onto the export ladder.

There are now 60 UKTI Export Champions in the North West, with the new companies announced at a launch event in Manchester.
Managing director Tracy Mort MBE,  began the company in 2007 when her previous employer went into administration, and she decided to set up on her own.

After securing investment Tracy began the company with a view to producing quality bath and body products at an affordable price and selling them worldwide.  She now exports to 86 countries, and employs 27 people.  Exports now make up almost 70% of Grace Cole’s turnover, which is growing year on year.

Mort says: “I always wanted the company to export as I think it is very limiting just to sell to your own territory given how small the UK’s population is compared to the rest of the world.

“I worked with my UKTI advisor Judith Kyle to identify markets and I did a great deal of research into what the different markets wanted.”  

Cheadle-based Grace Cole’s range includes hand and body lotions, handwash, fragrances, facial products, lip balms and shampoos and conditioners.  Over the years there has been a gradual move away from concentrating on gift sets which are seasonal and expensive to package in the UK, to daily care products.   

Mort says, “To be a good exporter it is necessary to be flexible and open minded.  You need to go out to markets and see what they like, and design and package your ranges accordingly.  I would thoroughly recommend exporting as it opens you up to lots of new ideas, and improves your business.

“I am very happy to join the UKTI North West Export Champions because I do believe exporting makes companies more profitable and more effective.  We export all over the world, from Australia to America, and the fact that our products are British made has really contributed to our success.”

Welcoming the new intake of Export Champions, Clive Drinkwater, Regional Director, UKTI North West, said: “Our Export Champions are an integral part of our strategy, which is why I am delighted to have persuaded even more of our best exporting firms to join us in the drive to increase exports.

“Export Champions such as Grace Cole will inspire, advise, motivate and mentor other businesses to start exporting.

“It is fantastic that so many businesses are willing to help contribute to the prosperity of the North West, both via their own companies and now with the help they have pledged to give to others.”

Mr Drinkwater said his challenge to the North West exporters is to look at one new international market to help boost the region’s economy.

“If every current exporter in the region achieves this, we could increase the GDP in the North West by an estimated £2b, significantly aiding economic recovery and giving a boost to our competitiveness as a region. The UK has only 0.8% of world population, and we need to reach the other 99.2% – one market at a time.”