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Sunny times return to Cyprus

The sun is beginning to shine again on Cyprus as it casts off the long shadows of financial crisis.

Its economic growth is projected to pick up from 2.8 per cent this year to around three per cent annually over the next two years, according to the governor of its central bank.

Unemployment is also forecast to fall, although the governor Chrystalla Georghadji has warned of the potential risk Brexit poses.

Taking all that into account, Cyprus presents good opportunities for UK exporters, with its large ex-pat community and the high reputation of British brands.

CWV Wallcoverings is the company behind three well-known, trusted wallpaper brands; Crown, Coloroll and Vymura.

The business was formed in 2014 following a MBO and is currently working in partnership with national DIY and home stores such as B&M and The Range, as well as over 100 independent retailers throughout the UK.

In 2016 the company launched its own internet platform – inspiredwallpaper.com – and re-entered the export market after a 10-year hiatus.

Since then the Blackburn-based business, which won the Newcomer to International Trade category at the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce International Trade Club Annual Awards, has launched 10 new ranges in just 12 months.

CWV Wallcoverings has achieved sales in Israel, France, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Cyprus, with additional orders pending for Jordan, Egypt, Czech Republic, Nigeria and South Africa.

It is well on its way to achieving its target of £2.3m export sales within three years.

Cyprus is the latest export country on CWV’s growing list and Neil Fletcher, Export Sales Manager, says: “Export seemed like the obvious opportunity to increase turnover but it’s a very design-led product which means you need the right product for the right market.

“We identified a Crown paint distributor in Cyprus – which has a large ex-pat community — who wanted to expand into wallcoverings – so it was the perfect match. They will now distribute our 135 different designs across the island.”

The first order, worth £38,000, or 6,000 rolls of wallcovering, has been well received, the company says.

Neil adds: “It’s early days but from what we are hearing from the big DIY chains, it’s all very positive and they’re stocking all our collections.”

CWV is a member of IGI, the global wallcoverings association, which has been able to give CWV market data and intelligence to help the business decide which countries to target.

Neil says British brands have more kudos, and the company intends to use its rich design heritage to attract new customers, both in the UK and abroad.

He adds: “We will have to tailor export collections to suit global tastes. In the UK we like light bright colours, but in the Middle East it’s very sunny so they want darker colours to cool the rooms.

“India is another strong market. However, this market is very regional – with large differences in tastes between the different states.”

However, Neil says there are financial implications around developing a wider range.

He adds: “As a small business, the capital overheads and costs to develop different collections for the UK and export markets are very high. It is a challenge because the design and manufacturing costs are all upfront.”

However, he is optimistic for the future, despite the uncertainty around Brexit. He says: “It will be interesting to see what difference Brexit makes.

“I’m optimistic that things should continue to grow - and it may mean that more manufacturing returns to the UK.”

18 Jul 17
Neil Fletcher, Sales Export Manager at CWV Wallcoverings