Why stick-on bras and hair pieces are being shipped from Suffolk to Polynesia
PUBLISHED: 13:07 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:07 21 June 2019
Sarah Louise Johnson
Clip-in hair extensions, breast prostheses for mastectomy patients and hospital patient trollies are helping fuel an expert boom for Suffolk firms which is now worth £2.2 billion a year.
The Department of International trade cited Suffolk as "an example for others to follow" as it revealed that the average Icelander spent £68 on Suffolk-made goods in 2017 while the highest per-capita spend was the Falklands Islands, with the average islander splashing out £157 on products from the county.
More than 2,000 Suffolk-based companies are exporting to EU countries while 1,460 sold their products to countries outside the European Union.
The most successful markets for Suffolk goods in 2017 were the USA, Germany and the Netherlands.
Other countries to feature in the top 10 include Ireland, France, China and Japan.
But what goods are we shipping?
Bury St Edmunds-based Undercover Glamour is now exporting to 32 different territories, they ship hair extensions and half wigs to Italy and Scandinavia, while there is huge demand in India for their breast prostheses for post mastectomy patients.
Catherine Peck, founder of Undercover Glamour, said: "For our business, exporting has driven growth and increased our profitability. Whilst securing international sales is not without its challenges, we were able to overcome initial barriers and have achieved great success."
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As well as hair extensions and prostheses, their stick-on bras and breast enhancements wing their way around the world, some as far as Samoa and the Cooke Islands.
"It is amazing how far they go," she said. "Sometimes orders come in from countries I haven't heard of. It tends to be the more expensive items.
"We have found that Amazon and Fruugo have greatly enhanced our international sales. We have launched Amazon web shops in Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada, the United States and Mexico to sell our products to those markets and have direct access to customers around the world.
"Exporting can be daunting for those just starting out, but it's well worth the effort. If we can do it, others can too."
Seers Medical, in Debenham, is a designer and manufacturer of medical equipment including patient trollies and couches.
The company has recently sealed a five-year contract to supply healthcare providers in Spain and it continues to grow.
Matt Clarke, marketing manager at Seers Medical, said: "All of our products are designed and manufactured in Suffolk. This has helped us increase our exports as our customers trust that everything is high quality and durable. Exports make up more than half of our sales, and we expect this to increase
"We are an ambitious business and know that there's demand for our products worldwide. The South American market was one of the few territories in which we haven't explored, however we are enthused with this region's growth potential."
Thinley Topden, head of East of England at the Department for International Trade, said: "Suffolk's exporting success is one for others to follow. More than 2,000 companies have taken their products to 97 markets around the world, and with DIT support we expect the range of products being exported and markets to expand over the coming years."