A CRAFT supplier and a diesel engine specialist from the region are among some of the country's fastest growing global businesses.

Published this weekend, the fifth annual Sunday Times WorldFirst SME Export Track 100 ranks Britain’s small and medium-sized private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.

Three North East-headquartered firms made the league table this year, compared to four last year. On average they have grown their international sales by 59 per cent a year over two years to a total of £29m, and together they employ 421 people.

Top-ranked is Newcastle-based Royston, listed for the first time. The firm repairs and maintains engines and generators for customers in industries including marine, offshore, utility and defence. It has established a base in Australia and last year trebled sales in Africa, Asia and the Middle East which took total overseas sales to £8.1m.

Crafter’s Companion, based in Newton Aycliffe but employing 200 people worldwide, was 73rd on the list. It sells around 4,000 craft items through four UK shops, websites, retailers and shopping channel Create & Craft. International sales in 40 countries hit £13.4m in 2018.

Founder and creative director Sara Davies, now on TV show Dragon's Den, said: “There is such a strong calibre of market-leading businesses in this year’s list and it’s testament to the commitment and dedication of our UK, US and EU teams that we have been counted among them.

“Throughout the past few years, Crafter’s Companion’s expansion into overseas markets has gone from strength to strength and we continue to defy the current economic climate by achieving year on year growth in our export operations.

"We will continue to expand our global outreach by creating innovative, market-leading products, to excite and educate new and existing customers, and have invested in our ecommerce capabilities, an ongoing recruitment programme and a state-of-the-art TV studio to support our ongoing growth.”

At 84, is marketing technology developer SaleCycle, of Houghton-le-Spring, which plans to open offices in Japan and New York.

Well-known firms including jewellery brand Missoma, popcorn maker Joe & Seph’s and coffee shop chain AMT Coffee also feature.

Jonathan Quin, CEO and co-founder at title sponsore WorldFirst, said: "At WorldFirst we’d like to be the first to congratulate all the businesses that feature on this year’s top 100. International markets present tremendous opportunities for UK businesses and the rewards of being a successful exporter are clear from the growth demonstrated by all the businesses here. That said, there are challenges and risks too and so we should also recognise the brave and committed leadership that has got them to this point.”

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, said: “SMEs are fundamental to achieving our target of increasing exports as a percentage of GDP to 35 per cent, so it is vital we give them the recognition they deserve.

"The exporters listed in this year’s SME Export Track 100 are pioneers whose example should be followed by ambitious businesses across the UK.”