SHEPPEE International Ltd, the Elvington firm with a lotta bottle was last year's Exporter Of The Year. Can it do the double?

In spite of the strength of sterling, its exports of engineered products for the hot glass container industry all over the world now comprise about 65 per cent of turnover, with its workforce creeping up from 38 last year to 42 and expansion into a 2,000 sq ft industrial unit next door to its Elvington airfield plant.

This will be used for the operational testing of new products and offer an improved training facility for its customers.

While other companies have found their markets shrinking because of the strong pound, Sheppee has been holding its own, continuing to service customers by field sales visits all over Europe, east and west, as well as South Africa and the Middle and Far East markets. Sales and marketing manager Richard Moore joined a FTI-backed mission to China earlier this year.

Recent discussions with the Philippines' largest brewers indicate that Sheppee has been shortlisted to supply more than £500,000 worth of specialist equipment to a new brewing, bottle-making and filling plant at Batangas, near Manila.

Further sales visits are planned over the next few months to Denmark, Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey. It's all a far cry from December, 1992 when the company, then based in James Street, York, went into receivership, but was rescued by a buyout, starting with a staff of only six and a withering order book.