Jewellery manufacturer Ortak is heading to Japan this weekend to fly the flag for Orkney at a brace of major trade events showcasing British-made goods.
The Kirkwall-based firm will first exhibit its range at the Hankyu British Fair in Fukuoka – hosted by the famous Hankyu department store – before moving on to take part in the Japanese retailer’s week-long British Fair event in its flagship Osaka premises.
The trade mission is the latest stage in the expansion of the revitalised Ortak brand, which continues to go from strength-to-strength since its re-launch last year.
“Japanese interest in high-quality, British made goods is growing rapidly and the Far East represents an important market for businesses like ours,” said Ortak managing director, Mike Gardens. “Ortak has already hosted a number of visits by key Japanese buyers, both to capitalise on this opportunity and to help raise Orkney’s profile, so we see attendance at these trade fairs as a vital next step in this process. We look forward to building on the relationships established with our Japanese customers and to forming lucrative new partnerships.”
Edgar Balfour, development manager for Orkney food, drink and crafts, said: “Over one million people came to the Osaka show last year, so it’s going to be a tremendous showcase for Ortak and indeed for Orkney, where so many of our locally produced, high quality goods are ideally suited for export to Japan. It’s most definitely a market that Orkney firms should be looking to explore.”
Ortak Jewellery, which had grown to become one of the islands’ best-known jewellery manufacturers with outlets throughout the UK, ceased trading in March of last year after experiencing financial difficulties.
But the Ortak brand – including the intellectual property rights and original designs and patterns of the jewellery moulds and drawings – was bought over by a group of investors who formed a new company, Ortak Ltd, backed by a £136,400 grant from development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The firm, which now employs 16 staff, carries out manufacturing in a former dental practice in Kirkwall and also has a shop in the town’s Albert Street.
“This year has been exceptionally busy, with the launch of new designs and collections that are being very well received by retail and trade customers,” added Mr Gardens. “We’re also seeing our pieces appearing on international catwalks, which is really great for brand awareness.”