A Cornish biscuit supplier that has been on the brink of collapse three times this decade is enjoying growth thanks to affluent Russian consumers.
Furniss of Cornwall won orders totalling 24,000 boxes of Cornish gingerbread and clotted cream from buyers from four upmarket Russian supermarket chains in the run-up to 7 January, the day Russians traditionally celebrate Christmas.
Furniss, which also supplies Tesco and Musgrave Budgens Londis, first went into receivership in 2001, again in 2004 and for a third time in August 2006 when it was rescued by the Proper Food Cornish Company.
This deal marked a switch in strategy to focus on overseas markets, with the company hitting food trade shows abroad in a bid to make a name for itself. The company's products have also attracted interest from Croatia and India.
Furniss, which has sales of £1.5m a year, said it hoped the Russian retailers would repeat their orders.
"The Russian biscuit market has grown 18% in the past year and biscuits like ours are seen as something of a speciality," said David Roberts, the account manager for Furniss of Cornwall who is overseeing the Russian orders. He added: "Proper Cornish was the first owner to recognise our potential abroad."