Export Britain

The UK's largest manufacturer of electric heating products expands into the Middle East

Founded in 2002 in the Herefordshire countryside near Leominster, Tyrrell’s is a producer of multi award-winning potato chips. Making crisps from potatoes it grows on its own farm, Tyrrell’s is understandably proud of controlling the entire production process, from seed to chip.

Based in Norwich, Heatrae Sadia is the UK's largest manufacturer of electric water heating products for both residential and commercial applications and has been providing heating products for over 75 years. The company exports to a broad overseas market which includes Northern Europe (a strong region for the BDR Group, of which Heatrae Sadia is a member), France, Belgium, Holland, New Zealand, Russia, and South, East and West Africa.

Expanding into the Middle East

More recently the company has made a new foray into the Middle East, specifically Qatar, where it plans to open an office to service the new customers it is working with there.

Steve Latarche, Heatrae Sadia Export Manager, explains: “When I joined the company in 2009 I was tasked with assessing the market for the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council), which is like the common market of the Gulf region. Once I had established that there was a strong market we set about creating a suitable range of products and regenerating the Heatrae Sadia name in the region. We have also been working with regional consultant engineers and specifiers who operate there, and attending overseas trades shows in Dubai, Saudi and Iraq.

“This work is now beginning to bear fruit and we have secured a few good contracts with key clients that we hope will lead to more in the future.”

Research as the key to success

Researching potential overseas markets can be challenging, so how does Heatrae Sadia do it? “A range of ways,” says Steve. “Desk research, the internet, personal knowledge of a region. Attending trade shows is also important to get a feel for potential markets.

“We also use the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce a great deal as a resource and support. Their documentation service is very good and their export courses have helped us significantly. Their team is very professional and I have nothing but praise for them. Other members of staff also attend their business and social events, so there is something for everyone.”

The benefits of being British

Exporters face many challenges – the culture, logistics, language barriers, but for Steve it is mainly the competition. “We are often up against products that are manufactured with inferior quality materials and that come with a very short warranty. We are as competitive as we can be, but we only use the best quality products and we offer the longest warranties in the industry, and this means our products comes with a premium.

“In the Middle East especially, British manufactured products are considered to be of superior quality, so there is still a great deal of kudos to being British. This is a key selling point for us. In addition, our work with specifiers often means that our products are recommended at an early stage, but price is always an issue.”

Heatrae Sadia’s distribution process is very varied, because it works with such a wide range of clients. “Some of our products go straight to distributors. We also supply to exporters and direct to contractors. It’s quite a complex process.”

Steve’s experience with exporting has taught him a few valuable lessons over the years and his advice to novice exporters is clear: “Make sure trust and credit are earned. Know who you are dealing with and never assume anything. Also, get everything in writing, a contract is essential.”

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