Lifesaving products have international appeal
Hospital Aids had been trading for 20 years before the Company was purchased in 2002 but exports had never accounted for a high percentage of turnover.
In 2009, the owners of Hospital Aids were given the opportunity to buy Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd primarily to gain access to a further two products – the AlbacMat and the ResQmat – which were purchased from two separate manufacturers, based in Australia.
Today, from its headquarters in Northampton, the company delivers crucial evacuation equipment to hospitals, care homes, schools and other public buildings, in a range of overseas markets. Since the purchase of Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd, which has common directors and shareholders, the companies have become the go-to name in evacuation equipment.
Spectrum Healthcare currently exports products to Ireland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Germany.
A key part of its success has been assistance from UKTI which has helped them to make the most of exhibiting at overseas trade fairs and find new business leads in unexplored countries.
We spoke to Stephen Clark to find out more.
When did you start thinking about exporting?
A few years ago we found ourselves sending orders out to Ireland and we realised that the rest of the world was waking up to the importance of health and safety awareness.
We’re at the tip of the iceberg, and our mission is to be ready to reach out to as many countries as possible when their laws catch up with the UK.
How did you discover UKTI?
We first heard about UKTI from an email about Passport to Export. The programme has helped hugely, giving us confidence and financial support with matched funding to visit overseas exhibitions and talk to potential distributors.
REHACARE in Germany was our first exhibition abroad, and success there inspired us to visit more shows and get our products out to world markets. This year we went to 23 conferences; we find many customers first hear about us from these practical demonstrations, and go on to buy our products. We exhibit at Arab Health, for example, which has indirectly led to orders from four countries within the Arab world.
How did you find the UKTI market visits?
Travelling is a big part of my job, and I absolutely love it. UKTI’s market visits are fantastic – you go in a group, everyone gets on really well and the UKTI staff are extremely helpful. You are able to network with the other people you meet on the market visit and it gives you the feeling of greater strength and confidence within the group.
Company name: Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd and Hospital Aids
How else did UKTI help?
UKTI provided interpreters for some trips, and they have advised us on the various shipping requirements for different countries. We found out that in the Arab world you can’t put a cross on the box as it could be deemed offensive. I would never have known that without UKTI’s advice.
Passport to Export also helped to fund translations of our website and leaflets. In many places in Europe lots of people speak English, but we would have found it more difficult, when visiting Russia and the United Arab Emirates without the help of UKTI.
What have you learnt from UKTI?
Thanks to UKTI, I now know there isn’t a country in the world that wouldn’t want our products. That’s a pretty big thought, and I’m not apprehensive about visiting other countries any more.
Working with UKTI has hugely increased our exporting turnover. In 2005, exports accounted for just two per cent of sales, but in 2012 overseas sales reached almost 12 per cent. Our turnover has increased overall too, so we’ve definitely seen an improvement.
Where is on your export radar?
Next, we’re looking to export to South Africa and Poland, building on our existing market base. We want to grow the international side of our business, and UKTI has helped us believe that is possible.
Would you recommend UKTI?
I would definitely recommend using UKTI. I can’t believe more people don’t use them. Our business would not be as well developed as it is without their help and support.