Advanced Materials & Manufacturing

Wales goes global

Wales goes global

Most businesses with ambitions to grow would love to export. Whether through expansion and direct sales, or via distributors in other nations, exporting offers the opportunity to reach new competitive markets and the potential for growth. While many may dream of one day exporting, the routes to that goal may be unclear.

Yet, here in Wales, companies ranging from the those in the software and leading-edge engineering sectors, to producers of life-saving medical equipment, have not only broken into new markets abroad, they are leading them. Here we introduce you to just a few Welsh businesses who have expanded their reach across the globe via ambitious and carefully considered export programmes.

Object Matrix
In the software sector, Cardiff-based business Object Matrix, provides hybrid cloud storage solutions principally to media organisations. 

Founded in 2003 by Jonathan Morgan, Nick Pearce-Tomenius and Francisco Ontoso-Ramos, Object Matrix specialises in providing digital cloud storage and lifetime governance for the media and entertainment industry.  

Recently the tech specialists have signed a five-year deal with an Emmy award-winning US TV series, as part of the company’s strategy to develop its export offering in international markets.

With international trade now accounting for 55% of the company’s business and more than half of its turnover, Object Matrix attributes international exports to its success and growth in recent years. This most recent signing is the latest in a line of big-name international clients for Object Matrix, including BBC, Fox Sports, NBC Universal, France Televisions and Deutsche Bank. 

British Rototherm
In the world of precision engineering, from its HQ in Port Talbot, British Rototherm has extended a legacy of pioneering development in temperature, pressure, level and flow measurement solutions in to numerous sectors across the globe. This company, which traces its heritage back to 1847 with the patent of the world’s first steam pressure gauge and the historic ‘rocket’ steam engine, today supplies customers in the defence, beverage, oil and gas sectors, among others.  

The company now sells to over 90 countries worldwide and its exports have doubled in size over the last four years. In 2018 overseas trade account for nearly 60% of overall sales, that included its latest £110,000 deal with Qatar Petroleum to supply measurement solutions for the Bul Hanine oil field project. 

The company in part attributes that international success to the opportunities it has had to join Welsh Government trade missions and industry events that have provided the business with increased opportunities to travel and meet with potential clients in key foreign markets. 

Award-winning mid-Wales manufacturer, Zip-Clip, has worked on some of the world’s most acclaimed architectural projects, and has most recently signed an exclusivity deal with the royal HBA Private Trading & Contracting for the distribution of the Zip-Clip range throughout Qatar.

The company, which manufactures suspension systems for electrical, mechanical, heating and ventilation industries at its premises in Welshpool, Powys, was founded in 2004 and exports its products to more than 50 clients across over 30 countries, including America, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Today, exports account for 40% of Zip-Clip’s turnover and the company aims to increase this figure to 60% by 2020 through new export contracts.

In the immediate future, the company is due to be involved in a number of high-profile projects including the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums currently being constructed in Qatar. This follows the completion of work on projects including the revamped BBC Television Centre and American Embassy in London, as well as Ski Dubai and Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.

Keeping the world safe on a daily basis from the germs that could leave us feeling worse for wear is the mission of Ebbw Vale-based, SteriTouch. The company manufactures antimicrobial coatings and additives found in everyday items such as hand-dryers and TV remote controls, which are notoriously prone to picking up bacteria, often being used by several different people every day.  

The additives produced by SteriTouch are designed to prevent cross contamination and are added into materials during the manufacturing process, making those products antimicrobial for their lifetime.

Founded in 2003, the company focused initially on healthcare products in the UK, believing this to be the obvious sector for antimicrobial protection. It soon drew industry attention, including from Mothercare, who were interested in a solution for highchairs. 

With many companies manufacturing in China, SteriTouch was naturally drawn into exporting as it shipped its material directly to the manufacturers of the products.  Interest grew in the SteriTouch co-branding facility and inbound enquiries began to arrive from other countries across the globe.

As a result of sales in 25 nations, including, China, Australia, Canada, South Korea, and the United States, to name but a few, export sales make up more than 52% of SteriTouch’s sales.  To put that into context, Sennheiser headphones from Germany and World Dryer hand dryers from the US are just two familiar items that contain SteriTouch antimicrobials.   

Ruth Lee Ltd
Exporting across the globe is an achievement for any company, but it’s something special when those sales are helping to save lives. This is exactly the case for Denbighshire, family run business, Ruth Lee Ltd, an international provider of realistic manikins and aids used to train rescue teams and medical professionals.

Ruth Lee’s dummies are primarily used by fire and rescue services, but the company also has an array of customers including the Ministry of Defence, police services, paramedics, RNLI, care homes and a host of global businesses including Glaxo Smith Kline and BMW. 

What began as a one-off project to fix a fireman’s homemade training dummy, has seen this husband and wife team grow a business that originally specialised in repairing prams, into a company employing 25 employees at two premises in Corwen, and on track for a record £3 million in sales largely driven to exports. 

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