A Worcestershire company is taking on the best in Europe after branching out into the design and manufacture of specialist glass furniture.
Online retailer glassdomain.co.uk launched last year following a decision by Bromsgrove Glass and Windows to diversify their business into new markets.
The company, which was founded in 1981 and has a turnover of more than £4 million, was helped by three Advantage West Midlandsfunded programmes which provided support and advice to find suitable suppliers, staff and processes.
Four years ago, managing director Graham Southall, a long-time admirer of Italianstyle glass furniture, spotted an opportunity for BGW to use its experience in manufacturing glass products to move into this market.
After receiving support from the AWM-funded Diversification Programme, the company, which employs 30 people, was able to launch glassdomain.co.uk.
The new business was also helped by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS-WM) and, in 2005, became a founder member of Furniture West Midlands.
Furniture West Midlands organised an exhibition at last month's International Furniture Show 2006 at the NEC, enabling a group of design-led companies from the region to display their products to new customers.
The exhibition was supported through AWM's £3.5 million net infinity project which is managed by the Birmingham-based University of Central England.
Mr Southall said: "We decided back in 2003 that part of our future lay in producing value added products and I felt the furniture market was one we could move into.
"For years, the Italians have dominated this market with a UV bonding technique similar to ones we had been using for the retail trade, so we decided to go for it."
The company supplies its products to the public, but has also carried out work at the Dragon School in Oxford and Radisson Hotel at Heathrow.
UCE design graduate Peter Wardleworth was recruited through another Government-funded initiative, the Contact programme, and he set about developing a co-ordinating collection of functional yet aspirational pieces.
Mr Southall said: "Once we had Peter on board, his vision and creative flair proved invaluable.
"Thanks to MAS-WM we were able to overcome certain technical difficulties and get o ur products into the marketplace and exhibiting with Furniture West Midlands at the NEC.
"These three Advantage West Midlands-funded initiatives have made it possible for us to get from an idea to a market far easier, faster and cheaper than we would have otherwise have been able to."
Mike Barton, AWM high value added consumer goods cluster manager, said: "This is an excellent example of how the use of a combination of seemingly different business support projects can complement one another and make a real difference.
"Despite the obstacles facing them, the programmes helped glassdomain.co.uk get to the marketplace and produce design-led goods that are the equal of anything made in Italy or anywhere in the world."