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Bradford manufacturer sees export demand grow

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04 May 2016

A supplier of bespoke sign, display and LED lighting products is planning further international activity following support from the LEP.

Applelec is seeing export demand continue to grow for the company’s products, particularly its market leading LED Light Sheet.

The award-winning LED Light Sheet, a versatile backlighting unit which delivers bright, even illumination, is manufactured and supplied by Bradford-based Applelec to customers including hospitals, museums and retailers, and major brands and organisations such as Molton Brown, Mulberry, Jimmy Choo, The Natural History Museum, Durham Cathedral, The Hammersmith Apollo and Gap.

Now, following support and investment from the LEP, Applelec is targeting the fast growing Middle East market.

Applelec has received almost £47,000 from the LEP since 2013 as part of the company’s growth plan.

Grant funding has been used as part of a total £182,000 investment to support the purchase of Applelec’s Bowling Back Lane site, an industrial unit used to provide additional storage and fabrication capacity.

And with a London showroom launched this year Applelec, which operates from three sites in Bradford, is looking to invest further in its operations throughout 2016.

LEP investment for training is also helping to support Applelec’s senior management team as the company, which employs around 80 full time staff, looks to sustain its success, which saw sales of LED Light Sheet increase by 20 per cent last year.

Ian Drinkwater, managing director of Applelec, said exporting, particularly to the Middle East, was a major opportunity for the company, with a clear strategic focus on LED Light Sheet.

Mr Drinkwater said: “Over the last five years we have developed strong relationships with many of the UKs leading architects, designers and specifically lighting designers who now specify LED Light Sheet internationally. This approach has seen steady organic growth of the specification and use of LED Light Sheet beyond the UK.

“The idea for targeting the Middle East initially came out of a strategy planning exercise that was funded by the LEP. Our planning resulted in several points for the company to focus on for continued growth, with one of these being export.

“Local knowledge is key and it’s been important to attend events such as The Hotel Show in Dubai to maintain contact with clients and ensure local contractors follow the specifications made by UK based designers, when our product is specified.”

Mr Drinkwater said that as well as the volume of construction work happening in the Middle East, the creativity of projects was also fuelling demand for Applelec’s products.

“Demand is certainly being driven by the design and architecture communities we work with, and through their specification of LED Light Sheet and related products,” he added.

“In addition, the exposure of LED Light Sheet at design exhibitions in the UK and editorial project coverage in international lighting magazines, alongside the work of our business development team, has contributed to a growth in brand awareness of the product at home, across Europe and in the Middle East.” <p< eric="" hawthorn,="" md="" of="" radio="" design="" and="" chair="" the="" lep's="" business="" innovation="" growth="" panel="" said:="" “i="" admire="" applelec’s="" ambition="" to="" grow="" by="" targeting="" overseas="" markets,="" demonstrating="" importance="" export="" am="" delighted="" they="" have="" made="" use="" a="" wide="" range="" services="" lep="" offers="" growing="" businesses.="" i="" encourage="" other="" businesses="" who="" are="" planning="" new="" investments="" in="" skills="" capital="" get="" touch="" or="" visit="" website."