With more than 50 staff, exporting has formed a big part of the Printed Cup Company’s growth. Lucy Murphy explains how they do it.

What does the Printed Cup Company do? 

We manufacture bespoke printed paper cups in Clitheroe, Lancashire. We have been specialising in branded paper cups for over 10 years. With no minimum order quantities and a range of lead times starting from 24 hours ready to despatch, we are the fastest manufacturer of printed cups in the UK. We are proud to be Made in Britain registered manufacturer.

When was the company launched, who by and why?

Having previously worked for one of the largest manufacturers of printed cups, Mark Woodward our Founder set up the Printed Cup Company to offer short run prints compared to the industry standard of 50,000. Also driven by a desire to bring manufacturing back to the UK, he set up the Paper Cup Company in 2005. This has then evolved into the Printed Cup Company in 2012.

How long has the company been exporting?

The company has been exporting for 7 years and our Export Department now makes up approximately 30% of sales.

What does the company currently export, and where to?

We currently export to most European countries and have a strong brand presence in Scandinavia. More recently we have starting exporting to the USA and other destinations a little further afield.

What motivated your company to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?

There was the demand in the overseas market for bespoke printed cups. It took around two years for us to become established in the foreign market and to meet contacts that would become longstanding customers.

What is the easiest part of exporting?

The easiest part of exporting is exporting to the EU because of the single market enabling the free movement of goods. This makes it easy to ship overseas because of the customs stipulations and required paperwork being minimal.

And the most challenging part?

The most challenging part of exporting by far is dealing with Customs and Border Control in new destinations. There can be problems that appear before our goods have even made it through the port or airport in our destination country such as clearance issues, unforeseen tariffs, checks and compliances with local rules and regulations. It can be time consuming and laborious

Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?

When communicating with foreign customers we sometimes experience language barriers; this is easily dealt with and just takes a little bit of going backwards and forwards over email to ensure that all parties are accurately understood. Most of the professional world in Europe speak great English and I speak two languages too so we usually find a way to understand each other.

Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?

Yes, we approached our local Chamber of Commerce who could give us support where approaching foreign markets was concerned and were also able to advise on the practicalities of exporting overseas. We also received support from UKTI, as they provide a regional Trade Advisor who can provide information on relevant courses and funding.

What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?

Exporting is a big step to take for a business and like all aspects of a startup journey it requires significant research and dedication. I would advise investigating your competitors to see if they are exporting (and where they are exporting) to establish whether there is a demand for your product overseas.

Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?

We’re currently breaking into the American market and looking to develop the brand in the US. In the next 5 years, I see the export department making up 50% of sales as our export potential is constantly developing at the Printed Cup Company.


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Daniel Munn