A Cumbrian eco entrepreneur has taken over a competitor in the south of England.

Sally Phillips, owner of draught excluder manufacturer Chimney Sheep, based in Maryport, has completed the acquisition of The Chimney Balloon Company of Surrey.

Ms Phillips’s product prevents heat loss from open fireplaces using felted Lakeland wool from Herdwick sheep. She has sold over 40,000 draught excluders since launching the business four years ago.

Its new acquisition manufacturers an inflatable draught excluder, made from a non-porous plastic.

This deal - for an undisclosed amount - will enable Chimney Sheep to expand its product range and market share, both in the UK, and internationally.

To date, Chimney Sheep's sales equate to about 10,000 Herdwick sheep fleeces. The company orders 1km (0.6 miles) of Herdwick felt at a time, which is one tonne of wool.

The company also has a distributor covering the USA with sales averaging 2,000 products per year.

Ms Phillips said: “The acquisition of The Chimney Balloon Company was an opportunity that we could not miss.

"The Chimney Balloon has been on the market for almost 30 years and is a very well-known brand with established markets in the United States and also in New Zealand. There are real synergies between the two companies and this acquisition gives us an immediate increase in our share of the market and allows us to further develop international markets.”

“Michael Walby came highly recommended and did a fantastic job. Thanks to Michael’s experience, the acquisition went very smoothly. Mark Stanger has also been there to give me lots of helpful advice,” she added.

Chimney Sheep, based at the Solway Industrial Estate, was founded in 2012 when Ms Phillips' recognised that Herdwick wool being used for home insulation elsewhere in Cumbria could also be used to minimise draughts from chimneys which suck away five per cent of household heat.

This deal was completed with Carlisle-based law firm Burnetts and Maryport-based accountancy firm Gibbons.

Michael Walby, corporate partner at Burnetts, said: “We are delighted to have advised Chimney Sheep on this strategic acquisition, and it was great to work with and act as a sounding board to an entrepreneur like Sally. We look forward to supporting the future growth of Chimney Sheep , which is a product of Sally’s ingenuity, and is a true Cumbrian success story.”

Accountancy and financial advice on the transaction was provided by Mark Stanger Partner at Gibbons. He said: “It’s great for us to be able to play a continuing part in the evolution of an expanding west Cumbrian business”.