Since then sales have steadily increased year on year.
Initially exploring the possibility of exporting in 2003, within 12 months of listing on Alibaba.com, Trade Copiers had achieved export sales of over £250,000. The company now turns over more than £1 million per annum with export sales representing over 50 per cent of annual revenue.
Trade Copiers now stocks thousands of brands and models of used copiers at any one time in a warehouse that occupies more than 22,500 sq feet. In 2006, Trade Copiers was named Business link Exporter of the Year, on the back of its accelerating growth.
The support of the UK Government Agencies, Business link and UKTI, helped to get the business off the ground, says Armistead, who goes on to add that the environmentally friendly aspect of the business, combined with the cost-savings customers enjoy through buying refurbished copiers is really what has driven the success.
Being transparent and straightforward is the key to trading online, says Armistead: ‘We believe we have built our reputation through a blend of modern e-business techniques and traditional service values. We store and distribute the used products at our own premises and have an open door policy for prospective buyers to visit and view the stock before ordering. In fact we’ve welcomed visitors from all over the place, including, China, Germany, UAE, India, Singapore, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia to name just a few.’
Armistead is keen to highlight that e-commerce has brought Trade Copiers to the attention of a much wider global audience than would have been possible using offline trading alone: ‘It has enabled us to grow our international business to a higher level and significantly quicker than traditional and resource intensive practices would have allowed.’