Middlewich firm's dinosaur passion delivers global business success
Exporting accounts for 40% of Everything Dinosaur's sales
A Cheshire couple have turned their passion for dinosaurs into a global business success – building up a loyal international customer base and roaring into new export markets across the world.
Mike Walley and Sue Judd started Middlewich-based Everything Dinosaur in 2005 selling dinosaur models, prehistoric animals and museum quality replicas to Jurassic enthusiasts in the UK.
But as word spread about the business among dinosaur fans, new opportunities began to open up in foreign markets.
Now on the back of International Trade Week, Mike and Sue are urging other local firms to consider exporting - to help grow their businesses and shield them from recession.
This year’s International Trade Week, organised by the Department for International Trade, took place from October 31 - November 4, and Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub has been helping local firms to highlight their efforts to sell goods and services abroad.
The Growth Hub, which is part of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, supports companies across the sub-region to export to new markets beyond the UK.
Mike Walley said: “Sue and I have always been big dinosaur enthusiasts. We’ve been around the world looking for fossils – though sadly I’ve never discovered a dinosaur which is every palaeontologist’s dream!
“In the early 2000s we were both questioning the jobs we were in, and we realised there would be a market for a mail order company selling dinosaur models. Online shopping was taking off and the timing was just right. Everything Dinosaur was born but initially our focus was on the UK market.
“We never really had ambitions to export – there was no big strategy – but in the end the customers came to us. We started getting talked about in online forums and social media around the world and before we knew it, we had an international customer base who wanted our products. We were pushing at an open door.
“It would be easier to tell you the territories we don’t sell to now rather than those we do! But we are doing great business in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Brazil. Our latest trading figures show that turnover has increased by 15% with exports now accounting for 40% of all our sales.”
Sue and Mike work with manufacturers based all over the world and Everything Dinosaur is recognised as a trusted brand by suppliers and customers alike. The couple have ambitious plans to begin designing and manufacturing some products in the UK and are receiving free support from Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub to take their idea forward.
Mike and Sue are also busy developing websites in French and Spanish to give customers a chance to transact in their own language and buy in Euros. Meanwhile, a US based website will allow customers in North America to buy in dollars is also being developed. They have also established successful relationships with B2B customers in Holland and Brazil who buy Everything Dinosaur products to sell on in their home markets. Their products are also used in museums around the world.
Mike adds: “Exporting might be a bit daunting at first, but I would recommend companies give it a go. I always joke that it took us 10 years to become an overnight success! I don’t speak any foreign languages and have to admit Google Translate has come in very handy at times.
“But we’re helped by the fact that English is the language of business and you’d be surprised how many people abroad like to have a go at speaking English. There is also a lot of goodwill towards British businesses. I find our international customers respect a British company, they trust us to deliver and see us as reliable.
“It’s all about having confidence in your product. If you’ve got a good product which will sell around the corner from you, then chances are it will sell abroad. It’s a challenge, it can be difficult but there’s plenty of help available including from the Growth Hub - and if an old fossil like me can do it then what’s stopping you!?”
Currently only one in 10 UK companies export abroad, but International Trade Week aims to change that with events aimed at helping firms overcome the barriers to foreign trade.
The government’s growth strategy, launched last year, has an ambition to see the value of the UK’s exports hit £1 trillion by 2030 - up from £600 billion in 2020.
Paul Chapman, Growth Hub Manager said: “Right now, companies like Everything Dinosaur are tapping into global ecommerce opportunities to sell their products abroad. They’re exploiting huge demand beyond our shores for UK industry expertise and they’re learning how to market and sell in places they never thought possible.
“I’m proud of the work Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub is doing to support these ambitious businesses. And we look forward to working with new firms in the years ahead - companies looking to explore the potential of exporting to help them innovate and grow their businesses. Helping businesses to grow means helping Cheshire and Warrington to grow – to create new jobs and new opportunities.”
Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub works with partners like the Department for International Trade to support local businesses for free to develop successful exporting strategies which can boost turnover and profit. Through fully-funded programmes, fledgling exporters can get help to research new markets, access finance, analyse risks and understand exporting rules and regulations.
The Growth Hub can also help exporters to understand what competition they may face in a new export market, how easy it is to do business there and any changes or adaptations which may be needed to products or services. The Hub’s Export Support Team works with businesses looking to sell goods or services abroad and can help with:
- exporting to new markets
- paperwork needed to sell your goods abroad
- rules for specific countries where you want to sell