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Suffolk-Based Manufacturer Cleans Up Overseas

Challs International, an SME manufacturer of cleaning products looking to expand its international presence, has used UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) to provide entry level support.

Graham Burchell, Managing Director of Challs, values the support that an OMIS provides. He said: “We’ve used UKTI’s OMIS service at least eleven times now. If you are going in completely cold to a country or region, the OMIS gives you a starting point into that market; you can be confident that, when you visit the country for the first time, the appointments that UKTI has arranged on your behalf will be relevant and a useful step in the right direction. Also, we can sometimes send samples to the Embassy that we can’t always take on an aeroplane.”

OMIS reports enable companies to gain reliable insights into overseas markets, by drawing on the knowledge of UKTI trade specialists based in British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world. They provide bespoke feedback that helps companies to conduct market research, identify their best route to market and find potential clients or agents. Challs has become adept at using OMIS to double-check the accuracy of its own background research. Roger

Goetze, UKTI Trade Adviser, explained: “The company knows exactly what it wants to find out. On each occasion, their brief will give UKTI a clear picture of what they want to have confirmed or challenged.”

OMIS results vary significantly, depending on the needs of the commissioning company and the target countries. “Our OMIS reports about the Middle East gave us some excellent insights into the region,” added Graham. “For example, we discovered that there are very few distributors in Oman, while the Consulate advised us about visas and the best way to travel between borders in the region. More broadly, we found out that Middle Eastern countries are receptive to English packaging and to branded products from English companies. We also learned appropriate business etiquette for the region.

“As you would expect, we’ve learnt over time how to fine-tune our brief to ensure that the results of each OMIS deliver maximum benefits for our company. For example, it can be as important to specify what you don’t want to find out, as it is to say what you do. If we’re looking for overseas distributors for our range of branded cleaning products for supermarkets, we don’t want to receive leads for

distributors of janitorial supplies – we need to source distributors with direct experience of grocery retailing. We’ll usually run our brief past Roger, to get a second opinion, before we submit it. Often, the UKTI office in the target country will also give us a call to talk through our requirements before they begin to fulfil the brief.”

Market Visit Support (MVS) funding from UKTI enabled Challs to research several countries simultaneously. “As an SME we don’t have deep pockets,” said Graham. “While grant funding was not the key issue for us, it did help to speed up our progress. It was advantageous to be able to visit several countries in the Middle East within the same trip – without MVS funding, that may not have been possible.”

“Challs is a great example of a company that has made strategic use of the OMIS service when assessing the potential of new markets overseas,” concluded Roger. “The service provides warm contacts that companies can build on as they develop their network; it saves them time and money while delivering high quality research. There is no substitute for visiting the market that you are interested in, but the OMIS provides a reliable and effective starting point.”


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