Surrey-based glass merchant soars with strong Middle East demand

Money Posted 14/05/18
Svaja, a Surrey handblown glass merchant, who make designs for retailers, hotels and restaurants worldwide has secured contracts worth more than £1m and seen its sales increase 300% after starting to export to the Middle East in 2011. Throughout the process they’ve received the support of the Department for International Trade.

Svaja, a Surrey handblown glass merchant, has increased sales significantly as a direct result of exporting to the Middle East, with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Based in Leatherhead, the business specialises in artisan-made glass designs and exports its products to countries including Hong Kong, France, Spain, Germany and most significantly, across the Middle East to locations including United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. Svaja’s products can be found in retailers, hotels, medical centres, restaurants and homes stores around the world. In the UK its stockists include John Lewis and other specialist and independent stores and galleries.

Svaja began its exporting journey after seeing significant demand from international design and architectural firms whilst exhibiting at Spring Fair’s Home Furniture show in Birmingham with support from DIT. At the show, the business identified suitable opportunities and networked with potential overseas trading partners.

Since exporting to the Middle East in 2011, the business has secured contracts worth more than £1million and has seen sales increase by 300%. In total, 50% of the its revenue is generated through exporting.

HMRC’s data shows that exports of goods from South East England to UAE increased by 9.71% from £1.0 billion in 2016 to £1.1 billion in 2017. South East exports to Oman increased by 388% in the same period from £78 million to £381 million and South East exports to Qatar increased by 42.4% from £227 million to £323 million.

The success of Svaja’s international expansion is being celebrated in DIT’s Exporting is GREAT campaign. The campaign is currently showcasing 30+ UK businesses – from a range of sectors and regions – to inspire and support firms up and down the country to export.

Kristina Svajone Bobs, co-founder and creative director of Svaja, said: “After exhibiting our products at a few tradeshows, we were encouraged by the strong interest from international buyers. This presented us with an opportunity to expand our business, and so we decided to seek expert guidance to better prepare us for our exporting objectives.

“Finding the right markets doesn’t come without it’s challenges, but we had support from a dedicated team at the Department for International Trade, including local International Trade Adviser Dermot Shean, that helped us navigate and understand our target areas. Culture and language can seem like barriers when first deciding to export, but DIT’s trade advisers helped us avoid basic mistakes and overcome cultural differences. If we can do it, other businesses like us can too”

Ben Raby, regional director for the South East at Department for International Trade, said: “The UK is already one of the top 20 trading partners for customers based in the Middle East, which means ongoing opportunities for businesses like Svaja to expand and grow revenue.

“The Middle Eastern market isn’t without complexities but we have International Trade Advisers based across the South East who can provide on-the-ground support, as well as number of workshops and events that are built to find solutions to businesses concerns with exporting”

Companies can find information and a current list of opportunities through visiting or contacting: DIT South East on or 0330 300 0012.

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