British marine company expands to China

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Family-owned British company Wilks Rubber Plastics is expanding into China with its fendering and PVC decking systems for the marine industry.

“The marine industry is naturally a global business,” manager Chris Berry said in a statement. “Although we have always exported, over the last five years we have made a concerted effort to expand our international activity.”

The decision was, in part, a response to shrinkage in the U.K. market caused by the economic downturn, but it was mainly driven by the ease with which the company’s new PVC decking products could be sold via overseas distributors without the need to deal directly with numerous individual boatyards.

“We had become aware that an increasing number of Chinese boatbuilders were using European or U.S. fittings, due to their high quality, and we wanted to find out if there was a viable market in China for our products,” Berry said.

The company worked with the U.K. Trade and Investment group in organizing a trade mission to China.

“We went on the UKTI trip hoping to identify one potential distributor and came back with a choice of four,” Berry said. “Our PVC decking product proved amazingly popular with boat owners, boatbuilders and distributors. Since the visit we have established a new production line, which has created additional jobs at our plant in Essex; we have also taken on a U.K. sales manager to allow us to focus more closely on the export market. Although still in the early stages, we have been very encouraged by developments so far.”

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