A GROWING number of start-ups are using a web platform which finds new markets for bankrupt and surplus stock, its operators say.

Poole-based Wholesale Clearance UK offers a means for businesses to find a buyer for their unwanted stock.

It was devised by Karl Baxter, who was in the business of buying unwanted merchandise himself, but found he was offered more than he could afford to take on.

Andy White, the company’s head of sales, said: “That was where the whole online platform came about. About six years ago, Karl and I sat down and said ‘What can we do? We’re turning away lots of stock here’.”

They hit on the idea of offering a web platform where people could list their stock for sale.

Their idea coincided with the rise of eBay and the merchandise is now snapped up by online traders, car boot sellers and market stall operators.

Mr White said the business stood out because most wholesalers would only deal in large minimum orders which were unaffordable to a sole trader.

The company generated a £100,000 turnover in its first year and had reached £2.5million by 2010-11, employing 15 people.

Mr White said listing is free to sellers, who get the sum they request. The company’s profit is in the form of a 30 per cent mark-up added to the requested figure.

Mr White said the idea had taken off, with 2.4million page views a month of its latest stock listings. But he said it was little-known locally.

“I think we sent more to Hungary last year than we did to Poole and Bournemouth,” he added.

Wholesale Clearance also offers a fulfilment service for traders who cannot dispatch orders themselves.

He said the business was still offered large amounts of stock every week from independent businesses. “It’s costing them money, it’s taking up space in their shops or costing them storage fees,” he said.

“We’re saying to business, don’t sit there with stock in storage, or not being able to get new stock in because there’s still stock on the shelves. Some people even end up throwing it away.”