Since 1989, Bio-D have been producing naturally-derived alternatives to household cleaning products that don’t harm people or the environment. Sales Manager, Emily Gallagher tells us how, with the help of the Department for International Trade, the company has grown and now has customers across 18 countries.
Tell us about Bio-D and how it all began.
Bio-D was started after our founder, Michael Barwell, compared the harmful ingredients in the cleaning chemicals he used in his day job to clean ships, against those found in his household cleaning products. Shocked to find similarities and determined to make a difference, Michael developed cleaning products from naturally derived materials with biodegradable properties and Bio-D was born.
When did you begin exporting and what markets are you looking to take Bio-D to next?
We first exported in 2003 as a result of a direct enquiry. A company in Europe had heard of our brand and wanted to add Bio-D to their portfolio. We now export to 18 countries worldwide including Czech Republic, China, UAE and Poland. We have recently added multi-language labels to our products in French and German as part of our plan to expand to France, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.
How has DIT supported you on your export journey so far?
DIT has been an invaluable tool in supporting our export growth. Our International Trade Adviser, Sharon Stathers, is always quick to help us find contacts in new markets, direct us to relevant regulatory information and meets with us regularly providing us with new export ideas to persue. Sharon has been brilliant in helping Bio-D to expand overseas and I don’t believe we would be where we are today if we hadn’t had her help. A number of our staff members, including myself, have also attended a variety of the DIT workshops available. They are a great way to discuss exporting with other companies, gain new knowledge and access experts in different areas.
Have you used any funding to support your export activity?
We used Exporting for Growth funding to focus on our markets in the Middle East. The funding enabled us to undertake a market visit to Dubai which helped us to understand the region and expand into other territories.
How would you say exporting has benefited your business?
Exporting means more and more consumers can access our products and make a difference to the environment. Selling overseas has enabled us to expand our customer base, access other markets and gain insight into new technologies and developments in our sector. The increased revenues exporting brings has allowed us to employ more staff to support our customers.
You are now a Northern Powerhouse Export Champion. What does this mean to you?
When I was asked to be Northern Powerhouse Export Champion I was really honoured. Exporting was new to me when I started at Bio-D and how far we have come in export markets in that time is a testament to the support DIT provide. Being part of the Export Champion community gives us the opportunity to be involved in discussions that can highlight the needs of exporting businesses, which is particularly important in the current political climate.
What advice would you give to other businesses wanting to sell their product or service overseas?
Have a process. We have a checklist of all the possible areas we need to look at when supplying a new customer or territory. It has taken a while to develop and it is constantly evolving but it is a great point of reference and helps us to make sure all the angles are covered.
To find out more about how DIT can support your business growth, get in touch.
Enterprise Growth Solutions Ltd (EGSL) deliver the contract for the Department for International Trade in Yorkshire and the Humber.