After decades of war and suffering you would have thought that luxury towel radiators and rails were the last thing Afghanistan needs.
But a Black Country manufacturer has cracked this difficult market and is now selling its products to the troubled Asian country.
Vogue UK, which is based on the Strawberry Lane Industrial Estate in Willenhall, has won contracts worth $1.5 million to supply its products to two five star hotels in Kabul. The success follows its work supplying heated towel rails and radiators at luxury hotels and apartments in Europe and Asia.
Established in 1990, the company employs 80 staff and has an annual turnover of approximately #8 million. It has been working with UK Trade & Investment's international trade team at Black Country Chamber of Commerce for four years to develop its export business.
During this time, export manager Chris Creasey, has been helped to secure sales in markets as diverse as South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Norway and most recently, Afghanistan.
He said: "We will shortly be working on projects for a heating system at Kabul International Airport and for the installation of heated towel rails at two five-star hotels in Afghanistan.
"We won the business from leads generated when I attended a trade show in Dubai in November 2005 thanks to support from our international trade adviser, John Pilley, through UK Trade & Investment's Passport scheme.
"I went on to visit Afghanistan in October 2006 and saw many construction projects which could provide lucrative opportunities for British companies such as ours.
"UK Trade & Investment's commercial teams at the British embassies carried out Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) reports on the other countries for us.
"These reports were really useful because they gave me excellent leads to follow up, and circulated the company's name in the markets concerned.
"Before 2002, our export sales were reactive and therefore limited. Now, they have reached about #2 million per year, accounting for 25 per cent of our turnover.
"Our exports are set to rise by 30 per cent this year, and we are looking at taking on new staff to deal with the demand from overseas."
Future target markets for the company include Argentina and Mexico.
The Passport initiative is a flagship scheme that gives new exporters the training, planning and ongoing support they need to succeed overseas.
Mr Pilley, based at Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: "Chris is a shining example of someone who follows the three golden rules of exporting – thorough research, enthusiasm and visiting the market.
"I'm delighted with Vogue UK's success, and look forward to continuing to work with the company."