A CRAFT supplies firm, founded by a North-East entrepreneur at university, has continued its rapid international expansion after securing a major deal with a US company.

Crafter's Companion, based in Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, designs, makes and supplies craft products for enthusiasts across the world.

The firm, set up by Sara Davies in her final year as a business student at the University of York, is now sending thousands of its flagship paper crafting tool, The Ultimate, to Michaels Stores in a £150,000 deal.

The retailer has more than 1,100 stores across the US and Canada, and the agreement will provide extra work for injection-moulding firm, M&S Plastics, based in Spennymoor, County Durham, who make the product.

Crafter's employs about 40 people in the UK and a further 20 staff at its Californian US operation, selling its products through retail outlets, online, and on global TV shopping channels, and working with brands such as Beatrix Potter and The Snowman.

Ms Davies said the Michaels deal would allow the company to maintain its strong growth, which earlier this year included a £100,000 investment to improve its Coundon packing and distribution factory and boost plans to expand further into Europe.

She said: “Michaels is probably the most respected craft retailer on the planet so to be working with them is a fantastic honour, and it will go a long way in helping us boost US sales.

“The Ultimate will be used as part of a craft education programme in its stores and online, which is great because that will further increase the product’s presence in US markets.

“Getting our product into the hands of thousands of US customers will hopefully lead to more demand from what has become a £18bn US craft market, and at the same time ensure we exceed our £1m export target this year.”

Earlier this year, the company created ten jobs, including a team of six industry experts to form a distribution division.

Simon Duncan was appointed European commercial manager and joined in its retail team by Janice Epsworth, Malcolm Langley, Jeanette Hallsworth, Mark Sharman and Lorna Horrocks.