A giftware company has helped boost sales with a focus on international trade which has seen customers emerge in Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.

Gray’s of Shenstone, which specialises in giftware with equestrian and rural themes, such as clocks, jewellery, table mats, watches, models and collectables, has seen export sales rise by a quarter after taking a more pro-active approach.

The Lichfield company turned to UK Trade & Investment to help it to export more and has recently completed the flagship Passport scheme.

It is now exporting its giftware to more than 20 countries as a result of exhibiting at leading equestrian trade show Spoga in Cologne, thanks to financial support through Passport.

Export manager Sue Birtwistle said: “We first attended Spoga with funding through UK Trade & Investment in September 2008 and were delighted with the outcome. It was such a success that we have returned twice since and we are looking forward to going back this month.

“We are exporting across mainland Europe and to Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan because we were able to meet leading retailers and distributors at the event.

“Our export turnover will be well in excess of £100,000 this year, up by at least 25 per cent on last year.

“We had never exhibited at an overseas event before going to Spoga and we were unsure about it at first because of the cost and time involved.

“With financial support from UK Trade & Investment and the encouragement of our international trade adviser, Pat Steele, we felt much more confident to go to market and the results have been fantastic.”

Gray’s of Shenstone, which employs 20 workers, turned over about £2 million last year.

International trade adviser Pat Steele, based at North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said the company, which was founded in 1922, had a progressive approach to exporting.

The Passport scheme provides a package of support for new or novice exporters, including a free export health check, attendance at an export workshop, assistance in formulating an international trade strategy and matched funding to help implement this strategy, as well as access to UK Trade & Investment services.

Ms Steele said: “The team at Gray’s of Shenstone are very focused on exporting.

“They channelled their strategy and marketing budget into identifying and benefiting from a platform which gave them maximum exposure and opportunity, and this has proved very successful.”