Export sales in bloom

Sunflower Medical Furniture approached UKTI Yorkshire to find new customers and expand their global reach on the world’s stage. Since then, their products are now being sold to the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nigeria and Ghana.

Sunflower Medical Ltd was established in 2004 and from its site in Bradford, West Yorkshire designs and manufactures examination, treatment and contemporary storage solutions for a range of healthcare providers around the world. The company has significantly invested in growth in the last few years, both in the UK and overseas and secured new, larger premises back in 2009 which have allowed the dedicated team to develop an extensive range of products known for their quality, reliability and durability.

As a market leader in primary, secondary (acute) and tertiary care Sunflower’s products are innovatively designed to ensure dirt and bacteria are minimised, whilst also remaining aesthetically pleasing. Established as a leading supplier of customer-focussed products and supply chain services to the UK National Health Service for some time, when UKTI Advisor Gill Greaves met with Stuart Anderson, Sales Director of Sunflower Medical, the possibility of a more international market seemed like a good way to generate some additional revenue. Stuart was aware that some of Sunflower’s UK customers were already exporting products overseas so this seemed like a good opportunity. Towards the end of 2009, Stuart started the Passport to Export programme for new exporters and since then the export side of the business has grown considerably.

As a process-oriented company it was really important for Stuart to understand the logistics and processes required to move a small, UK manufacturing company to a position where it would be globally attractive to customers. UKTI‘s Passport to Export programme improved his understanding of the pitfalls involved, the necessary marketing and the shipping requirements through a range of workshop and one to one activities. The opportunity to meet others at various meetings and share experiences was also a really useful component of the programme.

Looking back on his experience on Passport to Export, it was the reassurance and extra confidence it offered that really made a difference for Stuart. “Feeling I had someone in the diary, someone I could ring if I didn’t understand anything was really beneficial.”

“Passport lets you know you’re not the only one going through it, that there are other companies in exactly the same boat. It’s really good for that.”

UKTI carried out an Export Communications Review as part of the Passport to Export Programme for Sunflower Medical which Stuart found incredibly useful. Even minor details such as a glossary of terms and adding +44 to the telephone numbers have made a huge impact for example. The website also now has a series of multi-language paragraphs and a section of the website designated to international business. Stuart described the changes as “putting a sign up that we’re open to international business. It became obvious we had to really start taking it seriously”.

Company: Sunflower Medical Furniture

Industry: Healthcare & Medical

Website: www.sunflowermedical.co.uk

The changes had a significant effect in generating requests for quotes and identifying new tender opportunities. It became clear that to manage this new area of work and look after all the additional paperwork and shipping details that an Export Specialist would be required.

Stuart also used UKTI grant support to attend the Arab Health exhibition. The changes already made to the company’s website had generated numerous enquiries from overseas, including from an agent in Dubai. With UKTI helping to make the costs of attending the exhibition more manageable, one advantage was that face to face meeting with the distributors were possible. Worth it too, as £200,000 worth of sales were generated as a result!

Contacts

If you are based in the Yorkshire and Humber region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:

UKTI Yorkshire

Tel: 0300 365 1000

Email info@uktiyorkshire.co.uk

If you are based in one of the other UK Regions find your nearest International Trade Advisor via our postcode search facility in Contacts in your region.

Sectors: Healthcare & Medical
Countries: Yorkshire and Humberside
Topics: Getting Started
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