MALVERN firm English Braids has hosted a visitor from Russia, one of its growing markets.

A delegation of business executives from the country are in Britain for the London Boat Show at Docklands.

Travelling with them is Alexei Rusetsky, managing director of Fordewind Reggatta, of St Petersburg, the Russian agents for English Braids' yacht ropes.

Mr Rusetsky took the opportunity to visit the Malvern factory and presented managing director Peter Earp with a ship in a vodka bottle, made by retired sailors from St Petersburg. The presentation marked a five-year partnership between the two companies.

Mr Earp said: "Initially the Russian market was very small for yachting ropes, however it's growing in line with the economy and our agents, Fordewind Reggatta, have a well established network from the Baltic to the Pacific coasts.

"We see this as an important emerging leisure marine market and are planning a promotional event in St Petersburg later in 2004."

English Braids has had a presence at the London Boat Show, which opened on Thursday, January 8, and runs until Sunday.

The company sent a six-strong sales team to the event to demonstrate rope-handling and splicing techniques.

Among its plans for the future is the development of a new high-performance rope with a natural appearance for the growing traditional wooden boat market in the UK, USA and Russia.