Kerfoot eyes expansion through South America cosmetics bubble

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A prominent UK specialist oils producer is eyeing expansion through the emerging South American cosmetics market.

The Kerfoot Group, which produces oils for the food and beauty industry, is hoping to lock down a regional distributor at Brazil’s first cosmetics ingredients exhibition next month.

It follows the £76m-turnover business’ recent expansion into Poland, which boosted revenues at the Northallerton-based group by £600,000 in the last year.

Commercial director Thomas Kerfoot said the group’s “unique” products position it well in thegrowing South American market.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The cosmetic bubble is blowing up over there and we want a slice of the action.”

The group, which saw pre-tax profit almost double in five years to £1.8m in 2013, has a well-established export division covering Europe and Asia that makes up around 40% of the business.

Despite initially trading in Brazil six years ago, Mr Kerfoot said the group’s South American revenue is “very small” as a result of complex customs rules.

The business has since invested in logistics, including hiring a specialist logistics manager to work with existing personnel to overcome the “unrelenting export hurdles” the group has faced since operating in Brazil.

Mr Kerfoot said: “Now we’ve gotten our heads around customs we can take advantage of opportunities in the area.”

The group’s presence in Brazil to date has allowed it to test the market, he added.

Last year, Kerfoot Group established operations in Russia and Poland. Revenue from the latter grew to £600,000 in 12 months.

It is hoped similar growth can be achieved in South America following the In-Cosmetics Brazil exibition in São Paulo.

The family-owned business has seen strong growth in the last five years. In 2012, chief executive Jennifer Kerfoot took the reigns from her father, founder David Kerfoot, with aims to hit £100m urnover within four years.

Brazil is the UK’s largest trading partner in Latin America, with bilateral trade worth £5.1bn, according to UK government statistics. UK exports to Brazil grew by 20% in the last four years, reaching £2.5bn in 2013.