ENHANCING exports is proving the “reel” thing for entrepreneur Stephen Weston.

The Bury manufacturer has been exporting to an extra five countries and seen foreign sales increase by £50,000 after working with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

Elantic Park-based Reel and Shaft Handling Company makes hydraulic lifting equipment to move rolls of paper, cloth and plastics.

Since getting UKTI assistance to attend specialist client conferences overseas, the company has found business in Egypt, New Zealand, Ireland, USA and Germany.

Stephen Weston, managing director of the Victoria Street business, said: “Reel handling is one of the biggest niche markets in the world. Almost every flexible product consumers use is produced in reel form and is converted down.

“Existing lifting gear will lift the reel and shaft into the machine, but heavy manual handling is often required to get them into position. This is where we come in.”

Mr Weston has worked in the papermaking industry all over the world and, after a client request, set his mind to solving the problem of moving extremely large reels which can weigh between 300kg and one tonne.

His solution was to design an accessory for the manually operated hydraulic lifting devices used in most warehouses.

The businessman explained: “We designed a bespoke piece of equipment to fit to a stacker truck and we have now developed a range of reel turners that will fix to them.”

The overseas expansion means the firm is taking on two more staff.

l For further information on UK Trade & Investment services, contact the North West International Trade Team on 0845 603 7053 or e-mail: info@uktinorthwest.