Hall-fast expanding into africa

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An award-winning Mansfield firm says other local businesses should follow its lead and expand into overseas markets after landing its third contract in Africa.

Award-winning industrial supplies firm Hall-Fast won the order worth £50,000 for 2,000 pieces of embroidered work wear in Nigeria.

The contract for overalls, trousers and jackets is the third export order to Africa for the business .

Malcolm Hall, Managing Director, says that digital communication has made exporting easier – and there’s no reason why other companies shouldn’t be doing the same, with help from export body UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

Malcolm said: “The Nigerian order came about after the distributor found us online – they sent someone over to meet us to find out a bit more about us and a successful first order for £50,000 followed.

“Our digital presence has helped us clinch most of our export deals - we have 15,000 pages on our website featuring 230,000 products and 13 live international websites.”

Hall-Fast started to export in 2009, at the height of the recession, with the support and guidance of UKTI, and now sell their products to 78 countries.

He said: “ “Our strategy to export is different to the norm. I have never visited a country to do business and have not followed a particular strategy – we have focused purely on the internet and had an almost scattergun approach – putting the information out there and waiting for the bite.

“The quality of the information on our website has been crucial - it shows any potential client a lot about us - that we are a business that can be trusted – having won 24 major awards for high quality products and service.”

It’s hoped that these orders will provide Hall Fast with the opportunity to sell other products from their huge range to Africa.

Malcolm added: “Word of mouth has been replaced by word of social mouth – it’s a global marketplace where news of quality products quickly spread across the likes of Twitter and Facebook.”

Malcolm has worked with UKTI for a number of years, receiving one-to-one advice from a local international trade adviser. He said:

“Lots of companies can be reluctant to export as they are put off by horror stories – but by using UKTI and working with Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce exporting is a no-brainer – and it’s actually really easy.”

For companies that want to follow Hall Fast’s lead and secure overseas orders, UKTI are running a series of one-day digital courses.

The International Marketing Masterclass takes place on 13 May at The Derbyshire Hotel in South Normanton and Tuesday 8 July at the Nottingham East Midlands Conference Centre. The International Web Optimisation Masterclass will take place on 20 May at The Park Inn Hotel Northampton and on 9 September at the Mickleover Court Hotel in Derby.

To find outmore or sign up visit www.gov.uk and search for UKTI or call 0845 052 4001.

Ian Harrison, Regional Director of UKTI said: “Hall-Fast have been digital pioneers, adopting an innovative strategy that has been highly successful for them. The UK is the second largest online exporter in the world, with firms like Hall Fast leading the way.

“We at UKTI are currently working on a new digital acceleration project which will give businesses the support they need to follow their lead and we’d encourage any business keen to boost growth to contact us to find out about support for their online sales.”

Hall Fast have been shortlisted for The Guardian Best Practice Exchange award in the Export Category award. The results will be announced on 13 May.