LAKES playground equipment maker Playdale is planning to more than double the number of countries it exports to.

The Haverthwaite-based company already sells its products in 18 countries and now the firm has a ‘strategic plan’ to increase this to 40 worldwide.

Playdale has such a proven track record as an exporter, it has been named as a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Export Champion.

In recognition of its achievements, the business was visited at the start of Export Week on Monday by UKTI’s North West regional director Clive Drinkwater.

His trip to Playdale was part of a campaign to highlight Cumbria’s export successes and to get more of the region’s businesses selling their products overseas.

It followed the launch of Export Week in Cumbria at a free business event at Rheged, near Penrith, on Monday.

“The biggest objective of this week is to raise the profile of exporting and to show the benefits of local businesses selling their products overseas and I am delighted to be here at Playdale, a company that successfully shows the benefits of exporting overseas,” said Mr Drinkwater.

Playdale is hoping to boost exports further with the launch of a new range of garden play equipment, the Playdale Garden range, which can be self-assembled in private gardens.

Managing director John Croasdale said: “This is a new market for us and a very exciting business venture.”

Playdale grew out of a forestry business that was founded by the Croasdale family in Haverthwaite in 1735.

The company began manufacturing playground equipment in 1978 and has since designed, manufactured and installed more than 17,000 playgrounds to local authorities, schools and nurseries, community groups and the leisure industry.

“We expect to double the countries we export to in the next five years,” said Mr Croasdale.

“We still have a long way to go but this time last year we were exporting to eight countries so it is achievable.

“And the plan is well known to every member of staff within the company.

“The whole workforce adds up to about 140 people who always know the future plans for our company, as do their families.

“So really, there are 350 people relying on the success, ambitions and achievements of the future of Playdale.”