A North East branding consultancy is taking on more staff after establishing its first overseas base.
More than half the work undertaken by Surreal in recent years has been focused on continental Europe, with international businesses including Sonae, Nike and Stryker being among the firm’s clients.
The company’s new premises, created as part of a long-term strategic development plan, are based in northern Portugal’s largest city, Porto, on the Iberian Peninsula, and are located close to the headquarters of many leading manufacturing businesses.
The agency therefore hopes to use its new position in the local marketplace to expand the range of work it undertakes both nearby and further afield in Europe.
Managing director Ian Smith has already recruited three new employees to work overseas, and interviews are ongoing for further posts.
Staff from the firm’s Houghton-le-Spring and London offices will now visit the continent on a regular basis, while Portuguese colleagues will travel to the UK to boost knowledge across the business.
Smith said: “Our operations in continental Europe have become more and more important in recent years, and we have a huge amount of practical experience of how to operate in European markets, so investing in an overseas presence from which to build on this was a natural progression.
“As well as being close to one of our biggest existing clients, Porto made perfect sense as the location for our new office for many other reasons.
“It offers a great base in an area where there are many potential business development opportunities for us to target, and as most of the international agencies only have a presence in the south of the country, there are relatively few who offer a strategic marketing approach to the brand experience.
“There’s also a strong intellectual base from which we can draw highly-skilled staff as the business develops. It’s in the same time zone as the UK and English is very widely spoken.”
The move was supported by advisor Stephen Slater of RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, with whom Surreal has worked since its establishment in 2007. Assistance was also provided by UK Trade & Investment, the Government body that supports British businesses in their exporting efforts.
Surreal, which employs 14 people, recently underwent a rebranding exercise and now also encompasses a digital arm alongside the design and branding teams.