UKEF Case Study: Cleaning up the Middle East

How has support from UK Export Finance (UKEF) helped Bioguard Hygiene find export success?

Medical worker applying hand sanitizer - healthcare - doctor - hospital - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Bioguard Hygiene has been manufacturing specialist cleaning products for the healthcare sector for more than 15 years – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Based in Northampton, family-owned Bioguard Hygiene has been manufacturing specialist cleaning products for the healthcare sector for more than 15 years. With its products used in over 15,000 healthcare sites across the country, the company has grown to become a major supplier to the sector in the UK.

Four years ago, Bioguard Hygiene embarked on an ambitious programme to increase its overseas sales too. With support from the Department for International Trade, Bioguard began to establish its brand in markets such as the Middle East, India and Africa, where there is a strong demand for British products that are viewed as higher quality.

After building a reputation and distributor networks in these markets, Bioguard began securing much larger orders from its overseas customers.

However, while Bioguard was used to its export orders being paid for in advance, when the orders began to grow in frequency and value as the company became more established, its overseas buyers began to expect more flexible credit terms.

Bioguard won a £90,000 export order with a large pharmacy chain in the Middle East, which was both a significantly bigger order than the company’s usual business and which had the potential to become a repeat order from a newly regular customer.

While great for Bioguard’s growth ambitions, having to finance production on a larger scale without the security of advance payments led the company to seek extra financial protection should anything go wrong.

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Export credit insurance protects exporters against the risk of non-payment by an overseas buyer. As most of Bioguard’s business is domestic, the company only wanted a standalone policy covering its new Middle East business – but struggled to find single-market cover from the private insurance market.

Bioguard turned to UK Export Finance (UKEF) for help. UKEF is the UK’s export credit agency and a government department with the mission to ensure no viable UK export fails for lack of f nance or insurance from the private sector.

UKEF worked with Bioguard to develop a bespoke Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) tailored to Bioguard’s needs, allowing the company to take on the export order with confidence.

Thanks to UKEF support, Bioguard was able to secure significant revenue from an important new customer and maintain its momentum in a high-value market.

In just four years, Bioguard has quadrupled the proportion of its export business and hopes to continue its overseas success, with a target of at least 40% of its orders coming from overseas within the next two years.

“Without the bespoke export insurance policy from UKEF, we wouldn’t have been able to take on this order,” explained Stuart Hay, managing director of Bioguard Hygiene. “UKEF support has allowed us to build our overseas business and brand awareness, and ultimately take an even bigger step into a very important market for us.”

Jo Archer, export finance manager for Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, UK Export Finance, commented: “Exporting is a great way for businesses to grow, especially in fast-developing markets where there is a strong demand for high-quality British goods.

“For businesses that are just starting to sell overseas, it can be difficult to secure the right cover for their exports, so I’m extremely happy that UKEF was able to help Bioguard secure an important contract with an important new client.”