Glasgow-based origami firm secure major deal to distribute in Japan

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A Scottish start-up behind the world’s first origami self-watering plant pot has sealed a major distribution deal in Japan, where it’s believed the art of paper folding began to flourish more than 1,000 years ago

The move will see POTR launch its products in more than 100 outlets in the Land of the Rising Sun in February 2024. 

The company’s founder Andrew Flynn, a former Dyson engineer, travelled to Japan last month as one of six Scottish brands selected to take part in the SDI Showcase Trade event at the British Embassy. There, the POTR pot and vase, which can both be posted flat-packed through a letterbox, proved popular with delegates. 

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As a result, Diasho Trading will act as importers, distributors and agents for the brand in Japan. The deal will help POTR triple its turnover this financial year, and it’s expected that exports will account for almost half of the firm’s revenue from 2024 onwards. 

 In another sign of the appetite for POTR’s products in Japan, Andrew is now developing a custom product for one of Japan's largest horticultural brands, Bloomee - a six figure deal which will result in tens of thousands of pots being sold.

POTR began working with Scottish Development International in January 2023, targeting Japan and the USA due to rising demand from their respective markets.

Andrew Flynn, POTR’s founder and head designer, said: “Our products are heavily inspired by origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of folding paper, so being able to stock our products in the home country of the art form is a pinch-me moment.

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“Taking our brand overseas has been a daunting prospect, but we know it’s the direction of growth that we want to take. We continue to perform well in the UK, especially given recent deals with brands like Bloom & Wild, but this has confirmed what we believe; that our products have true export potential. 

“Japan and the USA are our big focus areas right now, so we’re proud to make significant headway with these deals. I look forward to returning to Japan for the launch early next year.  

“We began working with SDI in January this year; their help so far has been invaluable. We will continue to work with them to target new territories and spread the word of POTR around the world.” 

SDI supported POTR with introductions to key importers, distributors, retailers and brands. Discussions and negotiations were carried out with the help of interpreters provided by SDI.

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Angela Colthorpe, Scottish Development International’s in-market consumer trade specialist in Tokyo, said: “We were delighted to support Andrew on his recent visit to Japan and introduce him to a range of buyers and contacts to support his expansion in the country.  

“Being inspired by origami, there is a clear connection for POTR’s brand and Japanese consumers and that was evident in the significant interest Andrew had during our recent showcase at the British Embassy. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with Andrew as they grow their business here and I am sure there will be similar opportunities as they look to expand to new international markets in the future.”

POTR plans to follow Japan with expansion into the USA in mid 2024, with a number of visits across the pond on the horizon. 

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Designed and produced in Glasgow and Bristol, POTR’s standard range is made from recycled polypropylene and recycled cotton that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

Since POTR first introduced the world to its self-watering origami plant pots in 2019, POTR has gone on to grow a global following. 

POTR products are posted via letterbox for low carbon footprint delivery. Their latest pots use 30% less material than previous designs and over 90% less material compared with traditional plant pots.

The vase, which launched last year,  includes a copper stem which is inspired by the centuries-old hack of using 1 or 2p coins to keep flowers fresh, healthy and alive. 

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