New markets open up for Norwich, Aylsham and Beeston-based Ben Burgess

Ongoing problems within the eurozone have helped Norfolk-based business Ben Burgess open up new markets in South America and the Middle East, its managing director said yesterday.

Ben Turner revealed that the firm had recently agreed a deal to ship three containers of second-hand tractors from Felixstowe to Uruguay.

And the firm, which employs 175 staff at its main base in Norwich and other sites in Aylsham, Beeston near Dereham and Exning near Newmarket, is also attracting orders from Egypt and even Syria, despite the recent unrest in that country.

Although Europe still remains the company's main export market, he said the last six months had seen a noticeable rise in orders from non-European countries.

'The problems with the euro have had an effect as it has made it more expensive in Europe,' he said. 'The past six to nine months has seen a real dip.

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'We are still doing business in Europe, but it's just that we have got to get used to the changes in prices.

'But we are seeing new markets in Uruguay and South America, which is pretty popular at the moment.

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'They could get their machines from North America, but it's expensive to travel overland.

'Containers are very cheap – a 40ft container from Felixstowe to South America is �1,400. We have shipped three containers, with three tractors per container, in the past month.'

Mr Turner said the export business is worth about �5m a year for the company, just under 10pc of its annual turnover.

And he said the sales had largely been driven by the power of the internet with most orders coming from its website.

'It's an exit route,' he said. 'East Anglian farmers are very hi-tech and are also kind to their machines. If we are selling new machines, we have got to clear the old ones.

'In the UK farmers have a habit of changing their tractors every three years or so and we have been able to create a new exports market in those countries where they cannot afford the latest kit.'

The company, which this year is celebrating its 80th birthday, also received the Royal Warrant in 1989 and Mr Turner said it had definitely helped to open doors overseas.

'Exports have been very important to us, and that's really helping with our exports by showing we are company that has quality items.'

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