UKTI Support for VegTrug Overseas Efforts
UKTI-E-06-12 09 July 2012
VEGETABLE ‘TRUG’ GROWS HEALTHY PROFITS OVERSEAS
An Essex firm which invented a wooden device for growing vegetables is enjoying healthy profits both at home and overseas after working with UK Trade & Investment to maximise the international potential of its product.
Launched in the middle of a recession in September 2009, the business has gone from zero to £1 million turnover in less than 3 years and exports to fifteen different countries.
VegTrug is an innovative product designed to help people grow their own produce at home – even if they have no garden. The wooden box or ‘trug’, which comes in several sizes, is deeper in the centre and shallower at the edges to maximise space, economise on soil and account for the different depths needed for various plants.
The business is the brainchild of Joe Denham and his partner Paul Owen. Joe had been working at shopping channel Ideal World and owned a farm in France, and Paul has been running an agency selling furniture into garden centres across the UK when Paul came up with the idea of VegTrug which worked perfectly with the growing trend for people to grow their own produce.
As well as selling the VegTrugs, the pair have developed an i-phone app to help new gardeners embrace the good life, and a website which features hints, tips and clear video instructions. The product even has its own blog, Trug World, which tells the story of the company.
Since its launch the UK-manufactured VegTrug has been chosen as a best buy in Amateur Gardening Magazine, featured in a Japanese Grow Your Own guide and is selling well in Australia, Japan, USA and Germany amongst other markets. Most recently VegTrug has appointed a distributor in Spain and exports now make up over 70% of turnover.
Queries from overseas came in at an early stage for VegTrug, but International Manager Joe Denham contacted UKTI East for assistance as he wanted to adopt a more strategic approach to overseas trade.
He was put in touch with International Trade Adviser Steve Toogood, who arranged an Export Communications Review (ECR) for the company. The review took in VegTrug’s website and helped with funding to internationalise the site. UKTI also provided funding for translation services, enabling VegTrug to produce building instructions in different languages. In addition, UKTI offered grants to attend overseas trade shows such as SPOGA/GAFA in Cologne, as well as ongoing support and assistance with everyday queries.
Joe Denham says, “The help from UKTI has been brilliant, thanks to our international trade adviser Steve Toogood. UKTI provide that bit of extra help for businesses here, help which companies in other countries do not seem to have. As well as helping us improve our website and make it suitable for international customers, we have been to overseas conferences and seminars with help from UKTI funding, and we find the day to day service is a lifeline – being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone for advice.”
VegTrug are now signed up to UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth programme which helps companies further their international ambitions, and are hoping to break into several new markets soon including South Africa, Canada and Scandinavia.
International Trade Adviser for UKTI East Steve Toogood says,
“VegTrug are a great company who have grown their turnover from zero to £1 million in just 3 years, and who have immediately identified the international potential of their product to build up a thriving export business.
“We at UKTI are pleased to have been able to help them on their journey. We provide a range of help for UK firms wanting to grow their overseas trade, including help with trade missions, events and training, communications reviews and in-country market research from our dedicated teams in Embassies and Consulates around the world, as well as providing general day to day support. We would urge other firms thinking of developing their export strategy this year to get in touch and see how we can help.”
Visit www.ukti.gov.uk/eastofengland or call UKTI East’s International Trade Team on 0845 641 9955 to find out more about how UKTI can help your business.
Notes to editors:
- UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit www.ukti.gov.uk or telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000.
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