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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Wigton firm eyeing success in Middle East markets

Lucrative markets in the Middle East are in the sights of a business that makes toys, children’s furniture and educational resources.

Twoey Toys photo
Jo Miller, left and sister Rachel Kilpin-Miller with examples of their products

Mike Miller Associates (MMA) owns two award-winning brands – Twoey Toys and Active Designs. It has a signed a deal with Edutech, a distributor in the United Arab Emirates, to sell the products there and in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

Jo Miller, a director of Wigton-based MMA, believes it will be an ideal market. She said: “The Gulf states are investing huge amounts in education.

“They know the oil will run out one day so they are educating their populations, starting from nursery upwards, to ensure they have a highly-skilled workforce.

“The UK is tough at the moment so we were keen to look for new opportunities. We are really excited by this.”

UK Trade & Investment helped MMA through its Passport to Export scheme. Ms Miller said: “We went to an education show over there to get a feel for it.

“I will be going out again next month to do a tour of all the [Gulf] states then we will be setting targets.”

Twoey Toys was founded in 1996 by Mike Miller.

It moved from Station Yard to a purpose-built factory in Syke Road, opened by Prince Andrew in 2006.

The royal connection is likely to be a strong selling point in the Gulf.

Active Designs was acquired in 2009 to complement Twoey’s educational toys and furniture.

It supplies curriculum-based learning resources.

Samples in Arabic have been prepared in advance of the export drive.

Although Mr Miller remains the managing director of MMA, the firm is run on a day-to-day basis by his daughters Jo and Rachel. It employs 30 staff and has annual sales of more than £2m.

All the products are manufactured in Wigton and the business has refused to outsource to China or any other low-cost producing nation.

Ms Miller said: “We would lose control [over production]. We are British and proud of it.”

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