Sales teams drive Crafter's Companion growth

A craft supplies firm has posted a 36% lift in turnover to £7.7m after seeing sales grow in the US and UK

Sara Davies, owner of Crafter's Companion
Sara Davies, owner of Crafter's Companion

A craft supplies firm has posted a 36% lift in turnover to £7.7m after seeing sales grow in the US and UK.

County Durham-based Crafter’s Companion is finalising its accounts for 2013 which show solid sales growth to around £7.75m, a lift of more than a third on the previous year.

Further growth is expected in the coming year as the business consolidates efforts by its trade team and research and developers who are creating new and exciting hobby craft products.

The firm designs, manufactures and supplies craft-related paper products to enthusiasts across the world.

Half of sales come through TV shopping channels, with Davies a regular face on shows around the world, and the rest of the sales are made directly to customers through websites, and through the trade team supplying specialists shops.

Last April the headcount grew to 60 after a new trade team was take on – each to cover a UK region – and the six-strong team more than doubled revenues in their respective areas.

Founder Sara Davies said creating an “organised direction” has been the company’s main challenge over the last year – as well as the fact she is just returning to work after having a son, Oliver, last December.

“It’s probably the most challenging year for me personally within the business, trying to get the work-life balance right.

“It has taught me to delegate responsibilities and I like to think I have key staff in place and that I’m herding the horses and pointing them all in the same direction.

“I couldn’t afford for the business to stand still and it has grown much more than we expected.”

Looking ahead, Davies has budgeted for turnover of around £8.8m for 2014, representing around 15% growth, as R&D staff devise new ways to package the paper products for the online, TV and direct supply markets.

She said: “We’ve been doing a lot of work on product development, making sure we have the products right whether they are for TV, shops or online. On TV it’s all about the big value kits but in shops it’s got to be sold in packages so we’ve got to think about 3 for 2 offers.

“So, to take The Snowman range, for example, that makes a really big kit on TV but at the same time we had a range of Snowman products including gems, selling for around £1.99.

“It really made us think about how we supply it all and how we do it simply.”

Growing sales in the US market was also a contributory factor in the sales rise, aided by a deal signed with QVC America which led to Davies appearing on the “phenomenal” shopping channel.

“A few years ago when the recession hit us badly it was impacting upon the US, where we have 20 staff, worse than the European market.

“It really hit the craft industry badly so we shifted efforts to Europe.

“Now, it has picked back up in the states and we’ve signed a big contract with QVC America, which is a phenomenal channel which has built up such a trusted relationship with customers.

“It’s hard to predict the growth of the US business, but just in terms of its geography it will be 10 times bigger than the UK, although I feel it might not do that because we’re never going to be as much focused on the US as we are in the UK.

Increasing popularity in craft products in high street stores is also predicted to boost the business in 2014.

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