Defending the World Against Flooding

AET Flood Defences was formed in 2008 in Sheffield when the business founder, Fran Corrie, gained the patent rights for Aqua-SacTM a self-inflating ‘sand-bag’ which actually contains hydroscopic filler in the place of sand that expands when exposed to water. The business later acquired the rights for the Alteau Mobile Flood Barrier establishing an expertise in mobile flood defences.

When enquiries from overseas started to increase, the export opportunity became apparent. “We knew we must be doing something right”, explained Fran, “but realised we needed to ‘up’ our presence overseas if we were to be successful”. Fran knew the AET Flood Defences website was rather out of date and, as the shop window for the business, would need to be re-developed.

“Our export journey really started when we attended an export networking event and were introduced to UKTI” said Fran. UKTI is a government sponsored organisation supporting UK-based businesses to succeed internationally. AET Flood Defences were assigned an International Trade Advisor, Kathryn Borg, to work with them. One of the services Kathryn recommended was the Export Communications Review (ECR).The ECR provides practical, impartial and straightforward advice to help companies improve their communications with overseas markets. Each review is conducted by a communications expert and is tailored to the company’s individual requirements.

“Within no time at all, Kathryn had arranged a meeting for us with Mary Cousins, an Export Communications Consultant”, explained Fran, “Mary was amazing!” She spent the morning with Fran and her team reviewing the current website and understanding the business ambitions. From her analysis, Mary created a comprehensive, but easy to follow, report highlighting the recommended changes to the website to enable AET Flood Defences to achieve their objectives.

Fran wanted the new website to attract potential new distributors throughout the world, so it needed to be visible (high on the appropriate search engines), appropriate and appealing to this audience. Some of the key recommendations included:

  • Switching the website and all the email URLs to a .com address to ensure consistent branding and a more global image
  • Introducing a more intuitive navigation for the site and simplifying some of the content (Mary had analysed some competitor sites as a comparison)
  • Ensuring that the videos embedded within the site were clearly visible
  • Reviewing competitor SEO and creating new meta-tags relevant to each country, “For example, we learned that different countries search in different ways for the word ‘sand-bags’ some using a hyphen, some using two words, some one word”
  • Creating country-specific pages in 5 different languages for the key markets
  • Ensuring consistency in the telephone numbers used – some had the international +44 code, others did not.

“It was a great piece of work and was so comprehensive that we were able to use it as a brief to enable 3 potential web-designers to pitch for the job of re-creating our website”

The review was only completed recently, so it’s too early to report any sales increases as yet. However, as Fran explained, “It’s all guns blazing here! Within 6 weeks of meeting with Mary, we’d had quotes back from the web-designers, had made our choice and anticipate getting the first draft of the site built!” Fran is confident that the new site will be viewed by more potential customers and distributors around the world and will enhance the perception of AET Flood Defences as a global company open for international business.

“The ECR was great!” said Fran, “the speed of delivery was second to none and the knowledge that Mary provided, both in the meeting and afterwards was easily worth the outlay – real value for money!”

If you are thinking about developing your website for an international audience then maybe an ECR could help you too?

The Export Communications Review

The Export Communications Review (ECR) is delivered nationwide by a network of specially-trained accredited export communications consultants. Together with the client, the consultant puts together a programme of reviews to suit the needs and complexity of the exporter and their goals. Each review costs £500 + VAT, however, established companies with fewer than 250 employees may be eligible for a UKTI subsidy of £250 towards the cost of each of their first three reviews.  

For more information please contact your ECR team on 0845 0342111 or

Please follow this link to see how other Companies have benefitted from the ECR



Sectors: Energy, Environment & Water
Topics: E-commerce
Export Action Plan