Turning challenges into opportunities, the export-driven business achieved success in 2016 and exceeded half a million in sales

Furniture repair company MastaPlasta has recently been awarded with two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for outstanding innovation and international trade.

With half a million packs of MastaPlasta furniture band-aids sold since the business first began, the business has recently achieved 1500% increase in turnover. Capitalising on the demand for quirky designs, including skull and crossbones and the Stars and Stripes flag, MastaPlasta has broad market appeal. 

Based in North London, the company’s durable leather repair patches have also become extremely popular internationally, conquering markets ranging from the US – where 80% of its wholesale customers are based – to military bases in Guam.

These repair patches have been adopted across a broad section of industries, including automotive, fashion and equestrian. Over the last five years, turnover has grown ten-fold with businesses and consumers revelling in the fact that they can repair their furniture for less than £10.

However, for joint owners Donna Clarke and Stephan Pavlou, the path to success didn’t always seem so straightforward.

In fact, Donna and Stephan set up the business in 2009 in the height of the financial crisis.  Following the closure of five stores and realising that it was expensive to repair furniture, especially sofas, they spotted a gap in the market for high-quality make-do and mend solutions.

Donna says: “Turning a challenge into an opportunity has been a big part of our venture. With fewer customers buying sofas in light of previous economic downturn, our industry expertise gave us the foresight to know that people still wanted to keep hold of their furniture. The only issue for them was that there wasn’t a 100% reliable way for them to patch up their furniture. And so MastaPlasta was born,” she continues.

Sticking to international opportunities

One of the challenges for MastaPlasta was having to scale the business quickly to meet growing demand, so the company quickly enlisted the help of global transportation provider, FedEx Express.

Donna Clarke comments: “The huge uptake we had from our novel furniture band-aids meant that we’d be foolish not to go down the exporting route. However, entering new markets and becoming clued up on the varying customs requirements for each can be an unwieldy task. FedEx Express was on hand to share its knowledge on new and emerging exporting markets and as a result we were never caught off guard by hefty import charges.”

Regarding the use of the FedEx Express International Priority service, Donna says: “FedEx Express has truly shrunk the world for us allowing us to expand into markets which we never thought possible.” 

“Last year MastaPlasta made 400 international shipments with FedEx Express. Outside of our traditional exporting services, MastaPlasta has also taken advantage of FedEx Trade Networks. This provides them with international freight forwarding solutions, allowing them to import raw materials and ultimately create their product. It’s fantastic to have such a multi-faceted relationship with a customer and we’re looking forward to increasing market access for them,” says Jaydeep Prajapat, associate account executive at FedEx Express.

Patch up and get up

MastaPlasta’s successful story to date has provided a platform to allow it to expand into new markets like Japan as well as increasing exports to Canada and India.