AN entrepreneurial former journalist is enjoying dramatic growth in sales of the mini skis she launched to give children in Scotland a taste of the outdoor pursuits loved by youngsters in her native Norway.
The Team Magnus business run by Kristine Moody is on course to sell 6000 pairs of its Stumpy skis in the current season, just two years after the product went on sale in the UK.
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After winning an enthusiastic response from buyers across the UK, Team Magnus is ramping up production in response to a surge in demand amid the recent cold weather.
The company's success appears to vindicate the decision Ms Moody took with her husband, Alan, to start a business selling outdoor goods amid the toughest economic conditions seen for decades.
An Edinburgh University graduate who moved into business journalism, Ms Moody returned from Norway to live in Scotland in 2007. She was inspired to move into selling outdoor goods for children after seeing the positive response that the products her children brought from Norway enjoyed among friends in Scotland.
The company is named after Ms Moody's middle child Magnus, who moved to the UK aged three without knowing any English.
She said: "He quickly bonded with other kids thanks to his very cool German balance bike and his Norwegian snowracer – his little posse of product testers inspired the company,."
The founders thought there was a gap in the market for a firm that supplied quality goods that occupied the middle ground between supermarkets and pricier operations.
Ms Moody explained: "We have three kids and we know that there's a niche between the "destined for landfill" supermarket gear for the outdoors and the often heftily priced specialist kit on the high street."
Team Magnus was confident of winning a good response for Norwegian mini skis, which are easy to carry around.
After using a Glasgow-based toolmaker to produce a mould based on a classic design, the company settled on an injection moulding specialist in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, that could produce the skis in the desired quantities.
The skis, which sell for around £25 a pair, form part of a range of products that also includes bikes.
Ms Moody said the decision to use stalls at events like horse shows as one of the main sales channels has paid dividends.
She said: "The skis have given us a fantastic mailing list of rural, outdoorsy families across the UK.
"It's a pretty smart demographic of farmers and country families."
By contrast, in Scandinavia mucking about outdoors is pretty classless.
Ms Moody recently took an order from a woman in Hong Kong who wanted to use the skis at her residence in Italy.
Being small has posed challenges for a business that has invested heavily in research and development. However, Ms Moody believes Team Magnus has enjoyed some some advantages as a result of starting in a downturn.
She said: "Spaces are freed up at prestigious events such as the Burghley horse trials or Scottish Game Fair, where in boom years there's no churn because the crowds are so affluent.
"Several services have been cheaper, as diverse as freight and design.
"With general overcapacity factory runs can be shorter, which is great for a small business."
She is glad to have products manufactured in Scotland, although it may be possible to lower unit production costs in places like China.
Ms Moody says the advantages of local production include working on short lead times in close co-operation with a supplier. "Customers appreciate UK-made products and these skis have sold as souvenirs to Italians, Austrians and Americans."
Team Magnus sold 1000 pairs in winter 2010 and 4000 last year.
The business is on course to achieve turnover of £165,000 in the current year, compared with £110,000 last year.