By Daniel Hunter

An Oxfordshire fencing firm expects to increase export sales by 20% after securing deals worth a potential £1.1m in the Middle Eastern camel racing industry, thanks to help from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) South East.

Duralock, based in Enstone, Chipping Norton, produces and installs PVC fencing and railings for the equestrian, domestic, local authority and leisure industries. The company, which employs 23 staff, has built a solid reputation through extensive work in Europe, the UAE and wider Middle East, as well as Japan, Australia, Russia, the Philippines, China and the US. Overseas orders currently account for 90 per cent of its £3m turnover.

But it has been a new industry in Qatar, camel racing, which has led to its most recent success. With support from UKTI contacts in the Doha embassy, as well as a UKTI grant towards an exhibition in Dubai, Duralock has been able to secure a £600k contract with The Camel Federation at its national camel racing track, with another worth around £500k in the pipeline.

Camel racing is a popular sport across the Middle East, Pakistan, Australia and Mongolia and, like horse racing, is an event for betting and tourism.

“UKTI has always been a great help, putting us in touch with well-connected people in embassies around the world and helping us analyse trading opportunities," Jeremy Seel, Duralock Managing Director, said.

“We worked with UKTI International Trade Adviser Fiona Jefferson on another market visit to Oman in late January this year where we spoke to The Royal Oman Camel Federation as a direct result of our camel racing success at the track in Qatar, which is great.

“We’ve been in a difficult period of trading recently, so the real good news is that these deals mean we’ve not had to resort to redundancies, which is fantastic.”

Fiona Jefferson, UKTI International Trade Adviser, said: "Camel racing is big business across the Middle-East but it can be a difficult market to enter without doing your research and making good contacts. It just goes to show that good news travels fast and a good reputation is vital in securing further business.

"Jeremy’s hard work has paid off and meeting face-to-face has been worthwhile and led to a significant order which has saved jobs and boosted profits.

“Exporting is vitally important to every sector of the UK if we want to see our economy grow. We want 100,000 more small and medium sized firms exporting within five years and at UKTI we will do everything we can to help, advise and support those willing to try.”

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