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Underlay pioneer recognised for exporting excellence

A flooring manufacturer that pioneered the “British method” of installing underlay across the world has been recognised for its exporting success in the inaugural UK Export Excellence Awards. 

Interfloor was named winner in two high profile categories at the prestigious Export Excellence Awards 2016 ceremony and gala dinner held in Liverpool on 15 June as part of the International Festival of Business 2016. Interfloor won the ‘Innovation in Exporting’ and ‘Exporting Excellence in MENA’ awards, and was a finalist for the overall title of ‘Exporter of the Year’.

Interfloor employs over 300 people across manufacturing sites in Haslingden and Dumfries. The firm, which has a manufacturing history dating back to the 1940s, is Europe’s largest manufacturer of underlay and accessories supplying flooring retailers, distributors, carpet producers and flooring contractors worldwide.

The use of underlays under carpets is a very British concept and until the late 1990s Interfloor’s business was almost entirely confined within the UK and ROI. Twenty years later, and as a direct result of training overseas carpet fitters and project consultants in the benefits and techniques of using an underlay, exports now account for over 15% of Interfloor’s turnover.

Interfloor’s entry into the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) market dates back to 1994 when the company took a stand at a Dubai trade exhibition with the aim of introducing the local markets to the British methods of carpet installation involving the use of underlay. Up until that time carpets sold in this region were mainly plain in colour and of the high pile tufted “velour” variety sourced principally from the USA and Belgium. No underlay was used, indeed it was deemed to be unnecessary given the thickness of the carpet pile.

Following the show, Interfloor recognised that it needed to convince people about the benefits of an underlay and train the installers in the basic techniques needed to install carpets correctly using its products. An installation video was a great success in educating the public at the point of sale and resulted in ever increasing numbers of customers demanding to have their carpets installed using the “British method”.

Today Interfloor supplies over 400 customers in over 70 countries. Most of the world’s best known hotels as well as numerous mosques, cinemas, casinos and airports regularly use Interfloor underlays.

Interfloor CEO John Cooper said: “As a result of our team’s initiatives and our world-class product range, we have succeeded in increasing our sales in the MENA region by almost 400% in the last few years. Recognition of our success at these awards is very welcome and testament to the quality of the products we manufacture here in the UK, and to my team’s passion and professionalism in delivering great service around the world.”

Photo caption: (l-r) Tony Capon, Interfloor Export Director, Jide Bode-Harrison, FBN Bank Assistant Director, Structured Trade Commodity Finance, Linda Milburn, Interfloor Team Leader (Export Office), and John Cooper, Interfloor CEO.

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