Some might be surprised to see a company based in a chicken shed make it into a Sunday Times top exporters list.

But husband and wife-led furniture retailer, Amara, based at Concord Farm in Rayne, pipped other big players to do just that.

The company, which sells high end brands including Ralph Lauren Home, Missoni Home and Liberty of London, has just come 11th in the Sunday Times BT Business SME Export Track 100 league table.

Andrew and Sam Hood, of Great Easton in Uttlesford, started the business 10 years ago after Sam redecorated the couple’s home and showed a flare for design.

Andrew, 50, said: "We are incredibly proud to be part of the Sunday Times list, which is all down to hard work and being better than our competitors.

"Around 45 per cent of our turnover now comes from outside the UK and we have a very hard-working bunch of boys and girls who help us deliver to every corner of the earth."

Andrew and Sam bought - and later sold - a furniture shop in Baddow Road, Chelmsford, in 2005 and Amara has since boomed as an online retailer, growing by at least 70 per cent each year.

The journey from a two-man band to being one to watch was not without teething problems.

"We hired our first employee, Harriett, in 2005 - we worked on trying to get a website together and the original website was just rubbish.

"That lasted about 18 months until in 2006, we moved to the infamous chicken shed where all of a sudden we were picking and packing as well as well as everything else.

"Now we are growing our websites and opening new ones for new countries without much effort.”

Using Braintree-based logistics firm, Delamode, Amara ships to every continent and has dedicated websites for the America, Australia and United Arab Emirates as well as French and German-speaking customer service advisers in-house.

Its oversees growth was 128.84 per cent last year and the company features brands no other e-tailers can offer.

Andrew said: "We are the only website in the EU that stocks Ralph Lauren Home and we have the biggest account, globally, with Missoni.

"Basically brands came out to see our old store in Baddow Road and approved of how we were doing business and they had confidence in us."

Now the team aims to double its annual takeover to a cool £10million by next April - something Mr Hood was confident would happen one day.

"Reaching £10million is something we always thought we would do and we will continue this way for the next three or four years until there are 150 employees in the chicken shed."

Now beautifully refurbished, the spacious shed is home to 55 staff members, most of which were fresh out of university.

The rural location means staff can enjoy plenty of parking and a great outdoor space for lunchbreaks, as well as an ideal connection to the A120.

For Andrew, the only direction for Amara’s future is up.

He said: “We want to be on that main Sunday Times Fast Track business list next.

"Ultimately we want to become the biggest luxury furniture retailer in the market - we have the ambition to grow aggressively and be a global force in our sector."