AN international art retailer based in the region has attracted interest from more than 50 companies from as far afield as Moscow and Milan.

Eyestorm britart has launched a franchise format, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, which will see original works of art by emerging British artists and photographers available in the high street.

The franchise operation was launched at the British Franchise exhibition, a two-day event held recently.

Chief executive officer Don Smith said: "The response we have had to the franchise format has exceeded our expectations. We have invested a lot of resources and time into developing an offer that will appeal to a wide range of people.

"The proposition is an exciting way to earn your living. I am confident that in the near future there will be an Eyestorm britart gallery on every major high street in the UK and in several major European cities."

The business model has proved to be a success in Warwick, where gallery owner Alan Elkin opened the first Eyestorm britart franchise in June.

Tyneside-based Eyestorm britart works closely with more than 375 artists including Damien Hirst, Helmut Newton and the Warhol estate, to sell original and limited edition prints.

It has galleries in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Warwick and New York.