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Orkney jewellery manufacturer Ortak heads for land of the rising sun

Former Miss Scotland, Neive Jennings helps launch Ortak's new range back in 2010
Former Miss Scotland, Neive Jennings helps launch Ortak's new range back in 2010

Orkney jewellery manufacturer and retailer Ortak will take part in two major trade events in Japan this weekend in the next step of efforts to revive a brand that nearly died two years ago.

First, it will fly the flag for the UK at the Hankyu British Fair in Fukuoka.

Kirkwall-based Ortak will then be among the firms taking part in a British Fair in retailer Hankyu’s flagship Osaka store.

Ortak majority shareholder and managing director Mike Gardens said the Japanese trade mission was targeting growing interest in British-made goods in the country.

He added: “The Far East represents an important market for businesses like ours.

“Ortak has already hosted a number of visits by key Japanese buyers, both to capitalise on this opportunity and to help raise Orkney’s profile.

“We see attendance at these trade fairs as a vital next step in this process. We look forward to building on the relationships established with our Japanese customers and to forming lucrative new partnerships.”

Edgar Balfour, development manager for Orkney food, drink and crafts, said: “Over 1million people came to the Osaka show last year.

“It’s going to be a tremendous showcase for Ortak and indeed for Orkney, where so many of our locally produced, high quality goods are ideally suited for export to Japan.

“It’s most definitely a market that Orkney firms should be looking to explore.”

Ortak – promoted by celebrities such as singer Myleene Klass, dancer Flavia Cacace and weather presenter Cat Cubie – grew to become one of the islands’ best-known jewellery manufacturers, with outlets throughout the UK, before going bust in 2013 due to the recession and the soaring cost of silver.

The brand was relaunched in May last year after a group of investors formed a new company, Ortak Ltd, to buy the intellectual property rights and other assets in a deal backed by a £136,400 grant from development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Led by Mr Gardens and Alison Firth, a finance professional from Caithness, the new business has a retail outlet in Kirkwall and manufacturing facility at a former dental surgery in the town.

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