Shrewsbury-based Cobra Automotive UK is now exporting laser measurement equipment to Tier 1 component suppliers in China and hopes to breaking into new European markets selling safety barrier nets, load floors, sun blinds and load space covers to car manufacturers.

Production is increasing at its new Welshpool facility and the ambitious firm has also won orders for acoustic material from IAC, wheel arch assemblies for the Chemie Pelzer Group, and sub-assemblies for Bentley, Volkswagen and CNH Tractors.

Cobra was a supplier to MG Rover and its sales were hit badly when the UK automaker collapsed early in 2005. But it recovered to win a multi-million pound order from a 'leading Swedish car manufacturer' on a new platform - the customer will not allow its supplier to release further details of the deal.

To cope with demand, it recently opened the purpose-built GBP4m Welshpool facility and has doubled its workforce.

Cobra is eyeing diversifying into truck and bus parts with overhead consoles, lighting and an innovative 'sense switch' which eliminates the need for traditional mechanical switches.

The company attributed much of its success to Accelerate, which provided strategic and financial assistance to help the company shrug off the impact of losing a quarter of its annual turnover back in 2005.

Managed by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Accelerate has recently secured a further GBP3.7m of investment to be channelled into business development and capital grants, supply chain improvement programmes, collaborative networks, autozone and technology transfer centres.

Conra's purpose-built 25,000 sq ft site at the Buttington Cross business park houses office, testing and manufacturing facilities. It is also home to the company's laser scanning and measuring systems.

Managing director Gary Seale said: "We had a lot of sleepless nights when MG Rover went. We only had nine employees at that time and we were on short time working as we struggled to survive.

"Looking back, it has actually made us stronger, as the loss of Rover's business made us focus more clearly on developing new products. The lessons we learned are to innovate, speculate and get off your backside - there's no point sitting there and cursing things you can't always control.

"Now we are working six and seven day weeks. We haven't looked back and our plan is to expand the workforce from 18 to 83 people over the next four years."

Sales this year have increased by 300% and turnover has quadrupled to GBP2.5m. But the company, which had humble beginnings in a potato storage warehouse, is retaining its headquarters in England's Midlands, once home to many famous, and now-defunct, British vehicle brands, yet still playing a key role in auto making component supply and research and development.

Accelerate adviser Ian Russell said: "Cobra's achievements are nothing short of amazing and they are due in no small part to the efforts of a very determined and focused team.

"They have literally gone from nothing after MG Rover to develop new projects and relationships and I am pleased to see that this dynamic company's business development has led to a more stable portfolio of clients, who are recognised as good trading partners."