A QUEEN'S Award winning electrics specialist has expanded its base and bolstered its workforce to build on growing export sales.

Seaward Group, in Peterlee, east Durham, has set up a commercial centre next to its factory.

The firm makes test instruments for the electronics, medical and solar industries and has seen sales rise to more than £16m.

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It has supplied equipment to aircraft maker Airbus and Brazilian plane manufacturer Embraer, with its Rigel medical range offering defibrillator analysers and ventilator testers.

The company, which employs about 150 workers, says the commercial centre will bring together its sales, marketing and technical support divisions and be a catalyst for new product development.

Bosses say the move will build on its UK design and manufacturing teams' work, which is backed by a global distributor network and offices in the US, France and Malaysia.

They added its presence abroad has helped lift increase export sales by 20 per cent.

Rod Taylor, managing director, said: “Our electrical safety testing product offering across a wide range of markets is now very strong.

“All group brands are complementary and each division is a market leader in its own sector.

“Our ability to compete successfully in highly demanding international markets is based on a combination of close customer focus and technical innovation.

“The development of our new commercial centre is the natural next step in this process.

“The new arrangements will enable customers in the UK and throughout the world to gain access to improved levels of service, information and communication, while still being able to benefit from the specialist technical expertise that has been part of the individual brands for many years.”

Mr Taylor added the firm enjoys a strong presence in the US, Germany and the Netherlands, but recently completed its first sale in Japan with solar PV test instruments.

It has also won work in the Middle-East, South Africa, South America, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Spain and Scandinavia.

To consolidate its growth, Seaward, which won a Queen's Award in 2012 for international trade, has appointed Julian Grant as commercial director for UK and international sales, marketing and business development.

It has also welcomed staff in senior quality control and engineering roles.