Children's shoe company, Start-rite, is stepping out across the world and making great strides in America to offset the static UK birth-rate.

The Norwich-based company, which has the Royal Warrant, says sales abroad are now big business for Start-rite, which dates back to 1792.

Hilary Shanks, PR Manager for Start-rite, said countries such as France, Italy and Germany are important markets for the company as well as Southern Ireland and the Middle East.

The reduction in import duties in Australia has also helped boost the schools market there and America is another important market, where a warehouse has been set up.

She said: "We have opened a warehouse in New York which is helping us to distribute quicker to that side of the country. The Americans love Start-rite shoes.

"We did research in this country as well and that showed that we still have a very positive image in the UK.

"Mothers have memories of wearing Start-rite shoes when they were young and they want their children to wear the same brand.

"We are very proud of our collection and of the quality and standard we provide. We keep beavering away and have a very high profile among mothers.

"The birth-rate is static in this country but what is increasing is our sales abroad."

By Deborah Bowyer