The story of large-scale aquarium design, manufacture and installation company, ELSS Engineering, demonstrates how support from UKEF can provide the finance to match your ambition.
Founded in 2005, ELSS Engineering is a specialist in large-scale aquarium design, installation and management, with high-profile clients across every major continent, from Europe to the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
With 99% of its business coming from overseas clients, international sales are vital to the company’s success.
In 2017, ELSS won a multi-million US dollar export contract for the complete design, installation and five-year management of an aquarium to accommodate blacktipped sharks, nurse sharks, stingrays, and a range of smaller tropical fish (which the company will also source for its client) in the Mall of Dilmunia in Bahrain, and which will stand at more than 17m high and contain over 700,000 litres of water.
The contract was a high-profile, high-value project in a flourishing market for the company, and therefore an important business opportunity for an SME with sales usually exceeding £1m annually.
Although ELSS has successfully delivered projects of a similar size and value before, this was the first time it was asked by a buyer to provide a performance bond in order to secure the export deal.
While performance bonds are a common requirement from buyers from the Middle East, ELSS’s bank, the Bank of Ireland, required a cash deposit in return for issuing one, which would in turn eat into the company’s cashflow.
Fortunately, UK Export Finance (UKEF), a UK government department that provides finance and insurance to support UK exporters, worked with ELSS and the Bank of Ireland to find a solution.
UKEF provided an 80% guarantee on the performance bond, allowing the Bank of Ireland to issue the bond with a significantly reduced deposit from ELSS.
This meant ELSS could both secure the high-value Bahraini order and hold onto the cash it needed to deliver the contract, as well as the rest of its order book.
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You may also be interested in this article, where the CEO of UKEF, Louis Taylor, explains why exporting is a “national imperative”.
Building on this success, ELSS expects its international business to continue to thrive, especially in the Middle East.
The company has recently won several more export orders for the design and installation of public aquariums in both Oman and Mauritius.
ELSS Engineering’s Board of Directors stated: “UKEF helped us to secure the bond while allowing us to protect our cashflow, and therefore remain competitive to our buyers in this important market – where we have since won more high-value business.”
Elizabethe McCrory, Export Finance Manager for Northern Ireland, UK Export Finance, commented: “ELSS is a great example of Northern Ireland’s engineering expertise and a company truly making the most of exporting.
“This was UKEF’s first bond support deal with the Bank of Ireland and I look forward to working with them again in future, to help Northern Irish businesses take full advantage of the international demand for their world-leading products and services.”