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Fence firm has help over hump
Workers at an Oxfordshire fencing firm could have been forgiven for getting the hump when their jobs came under threat as orders dried up.
But bosses at Duralock in Enstone held their nerve and now they are back on track thanks to some lucrative deals from the Middle East camel-racing circuit.
Duralock makes plastic fencing primarily for horse racing venues such as Royal Ascot and Aintree as well as crowd barriers for sports teams including Witney Rugby Club and a range of schools.
But last autumn the order book was looking sparse and managers were forced to consider making some of the eight staff at the facility redundant along with more at its Cornwall manufacturing plant which has 17 staff.
But in January they took part in a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) trade mission to Dubai and secured a deal worth £600,000 with The Camel Federation for its racing track in Qatar, with another worth around £500,000 in the pipeline.
It is set to boost the firm’s export sales by 20 per cent and have a positive impact on its £3m turnover.
Managing director Jeremy Seel said: “We’ve been in a difficult period of trading but we did not want to lose skilled people, so we did things like paint our offices.
“Now these orders have come in and we have the people to deal with them. And we’ve not had to resort to redundancies, which is fantastic.”
Camel racing is a sport growing in popularity across the Middle East, Pakistan, Australia and Mongolia.
Traditionally fences have been made of metal but can cause injuries to the animals and riders in the event of a collision or fall.
Mr Seel added: “We have also been to see the Royal Oman Police who use a lot of camels and need fencing and we have taken other inquiries from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.”
The Enstone-based team mainly assembles and packs fences made in Cornwall for shipping but the facility is also capable of manufacturing them. Now workers are becoming experts in camel racing.
Production manager Jason Jones said: “We have just taken another order for 4,500 metres of camel track fencing which will be sent out next week.”
UKTI international trade adviser Fiona Jefferson 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.
“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.”