A North-East textile company is rolling out the red carpet for overseas clients as it sets its sights on global markets, thanks to Department for International Trade support.

UK Heritage Rugs has been creating and distributing beautiful high-end silk and wool rugs from its hub in Frosterley, County Durham for over a decade.

Founded in 2005 by designer Brian Sales, he has grown it to become one of the leading manufacturers of heritage rugs, securing sole licenses from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum.

The company is launching its British Museum Rug Collection after securing European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) from the Department for International Trade 

The collection, aimed at the export market, features four unique designs by 19th century Japanese designer Katsushika Hokusai. Considered one of the great figures in Japanese Art, Hokusai is best known for his print series ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ which includes the woodblock masterpiece ‘The Wave’. 

Brian, who is director of business, said: “We’re really excited about this collection, which is a great example of a collaborative effort by a host of skilled weavers, whose techniques combine with bold designs to create products of the highest quality. 

“Each rug is hand-knotted by masterweavers in India and have a superfine 200 knots per inch weave…and they’re stunning!”

He added: “We want to create beautiful rugs of the very highest quality, but it’s important to us that every rug is ethically sourced. We’re a proud partner of GoodWeave, so all of our rugs are handcrafted by skilled adult artisans whose skills have been passed down from generation to generation.”

UK Heritage Rugs is just one of the small, rural, arts businesses to have received support from the Department for International Trade (DIT). 

DIT has helped UK Heritage Rugs to not only develop an online presence, but also to design and implement an export strategy.

“As we are such a small business, we couldn’t consider setting up distribution or sales teams overseas on our own,” said Brian.

 “Working with e-commerce experts at the DIT, we have made great progress in getting international sales and we are excited about the next exporting steps.”

Sue Beverley, DIT e-commerce advisor, said: “There is a huge appetite for British arts and crafts across the world, and we’re delighted to see UK Heritage Rugs doing so well in the international market.

“We have worked closely with the firm for a number of years, helping develop and implement an export strategy for the company and developed a functioning website.

“Creating an online presence was key, if they were to succeed in international markets. We worked with Brian to design and launch their website, which truly captures the essence and elegance of the business.” 

ERDF funding has enabled the firm to attend the Domotex 2018 tradeshow in Hannover, and also showcase their Victoria and Albert rugs at the Decorex tradeshow in the UK in September. 

Sue added: “UK Heritage Rugs is a fine example of a unique company flourishing with the support of DIT’s ERDF programme. I would say to any firm with that spark of an idea and the drive to see it through, the world is your marketplace and we are here to help you break into these global markets.”