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Marches confectioner aims for sweet success on UKTI trip to Benelux

The Hub News Team | 16.2.16

A Marches company is aiming for sweet success after it was chosen to participate in a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) first-time exporters' business trip to the Benelux countries next week.

Brian and Leanne CrowtherShrewsbury-based Flower & White, which bakes artisan meringues and cakes, plus a range of luxurious desserts, is the only company from the West Midlands region taking part in the Export Insight Visit (EIV), which will explore the opportunities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Leanne Crowther, who co-owns Flower & White with her husband Brian, said:

"After visiting food fairs and trade shows both here in the UK and abroad, I'm really looking forward to testing the waters to see what international interest there is in the meringues we produce.

"We've had enquiries from countries such as Spain, Latvia and the Netherlands, and we've sent off a few boxes of meringues to different companies in Europe, but we've not put in place any kind of export plan.

"This trip will give us the opportunity to get expert advice, meet the right people in the food sector, show off our product and start us on our path to exporting. Following this fact-finding mission, we hope to start exporting seriously in 2017."

Leanne and her husband started their business in their Shropshire home in 2009 and within 12 months had moved to a production unit in Gains Park, Shrewsbury. In 2011, it moved again and now has two units at the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre, where the couple employ 20 staff.

"It's been an exciting few years as we've begun to build the business, selling to shops such as The Co-op, Ocado and Spar. Now, with UKTI's help, we're hoping to expand our reach further," added Leanne.

A total of 25 food and consumer businesses from across the country will be taking part in the food and consumer goods-focused two-day programme on February 16-18, which aims to help companies explore the opportunities in the three European markets of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

While there, Leanne and fellow entrepreneurs will meet a range of international contacts, including the British ambassador to the Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams, and will be offered guidance on how to approach traders in the region.

She will also take part in tours of retail stores, supermarkets, food halls and buying centres in The Hague.

Christine Hamilton, interim UKTI regional director in the West Midlands, said EIVs were a superb opportunity for businesses with little or no experience in international sales start the process of exporting.

She said: "I'm very pleased to see that a local company will be participating in this business programme, which will offer a great insight into exporting to three key EU states.

"Leanne will benefit hugely from being out in the field, meeting some potentially very important contacts, including commercial officers in The Netherlands, all of which could start Flower & White's journey into trading overseas. We look forward to continue working with her and helping her gain new export business as her company grows."

For more information on how an Export Insight Visit could help your business attract a new market, contact the West Midlands International Trade Hotline on enquiries@uktiwm.co.uk or 0345 222 0159

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