Simon Claridge Mangar
Mangar CEO Simon Claridge

Starting life as a little family business based in a small Welsh town, Mangar’s CEO Simon Claridge explains how the company has transformed over recent years into the global medical devices supplier it is today.

Founded by the late inventor and pioneer David Edmund Talbot Garman OBE in 1981, Mangar created the world’s first powered, portable bath lift designed to help lift patients and older people with safety and dignity.

As time went on, the company expanded its range into inflatable medical devices, including inflatable bath lifts and inflatable cushions often used by ambulance crews to assist people who have fallen.

Growing organically for many years, Mangar underwent a management buyout in 2014 and YFM Equity Partners (YFM), a specialist in supporting regional SMEs, backed the business.

Advertisement | Continue story below

While the company had been relatively successful, its potential had not been fully realised, explains CEO Simon Claridge.

“I was recruited five years ago as part of the move to make the company more commercially focussed rather than being led by product development,” recounts Claridge.

“I have a track record in pharma and medical devices but my background is very much on the sales side so I was brought on board to work alongside the new chair, James Buckley, who also has strong sector knowledge, and introduce a more professional and sales-focused approach.

“For example, we introduced a CRM system and implemented proper targeting to identify key sales opportunities by researching the demand for products and potential markets. We also developed our market proposition by identifying our highest value products and focussing on these – our ‘Elk’ inflatable lifting cushions are now part of the standard equipment in every ambulance in the UK. Our product technology is unique and patented, and, while it looks simple, it is actually complex and very effective.”

Claridge highlights how the company undertook its own research and produced health economic data, enabling it to support its product benefit claims and demonstrate that by having its products more widely available to health professionals, CCGs and care homes would actually save money.

“For example, previously ambulances were being called out to care homes purely to lift a resident,” continues Claridge, “but we’ve provided the necessary equipment and worked to inform and educate about when to call an ambulance, so reducing hospital admissions.”

The experienced industry exec notes that an in-depth review of the business and global markets were essential to determine where its biggest opportunities lay.

“As a management team, we had to stand back and look at each part of the business, identifying where we could sell products and changing to a commercially-led business – even now, our marketing director manages R&D and products are developed products in line with customers’ needs and market demand,” points out Claridge.

“While there were fledgling sales in Germany and the US, we realised that focussing on selling greater volumes of our existing products in new territories was a huge opportunity. Mangar now sells worldwide, across Europe, the US and Australia – all ambulances in Victoria are equipped with the Elk inflatable cushion, and we’re currently targeting New South Wales.”

Mangar lift carers man

Ian Waterfield, partner at YFM and board member at Mangar for four years, adds that the private equity firm realised the huge potential in the mobility market and saw the opportunity for Mangar to capitalise on it.

“With its strong product innovation and operating in the growing area of mobility at home, we could see that the business had huge potential, and there was a real opportunity to improve its sales and marketing operations,” he explains.

“One of the first problems we identified was the small pool of talent available locally in the town of Presteigne in Powys, so a sales and marketing office was opened in the more central location of Telford and the team was expanded.

“When working with SMEs, we see ourselves as an ‘enabler’. We don’t want to micro-manage, but rather ensure that the right senior people are in place in the business to make the change happen. At Mangar, having James and Simon at the helm meant we knew the business had the necessary skills to implement the strategy of moving from being a manufacturer into a more sales-focused operation and expanding into global markets.”

With strong revenue growth, the board felt it was a good time to prepare the business for sale in order to scale-up further and in December 2018, the company was bought by the French Winncare Group.

“The sale to Winncare was a huge success for all concerned. As well as achieving a good return for YFM, its investors and the Mangar management team, it also took the business to the next level,” says Simon.

“Since the sale, we’ve continued to see double-digit growth and, despite the challenges of social care cost-cutting in the UK last year, the business has continued to prosper. Pushing geographical expansion to support our international rollout proposition proved to be a vital move.

“The introduction of private equity finance enabled investment in improving our sales and finance structure, creating a business someone wanted to buy. We were fortunate that YFM is happy to invest anywhere in the UK, and we benefitted from having their experience on the board to share business thought and bring their commercial acumen into play. They introduced the skills we needed into the business, moved the location of our sales operation and strengthened the team, building the business into a more professional, sales and marketing-focussed operation. YFM was the right fit for us – they are not at the aggressive end of PE, we found them to be challenging, but also supportive and realistic.”

Having doubled revenue over the last five years, prospects still look good for Mangar, despite the disruption of the COVID outbreak, says Claridge.

With many occupational therapists no longer able to visit non-emergency cases at home, fewer inflatable lifts are being prescribed in the short-term but the need for the products continues.

The lockdown and outbreak also saw Mangar support the Nightingale Hospitals with its devices and this, together with its ongoing strategy, enabled the company to achieve record months in April and May 2020.

Join the 2,500+ mobility professionals who stay informed with THIIS' twice-weekly industry updates.
We respect your privacy BarnettNewsroomSupplier NewsTrade Newscoronavirus,COVID-19,David Edmund Talbot Garman OBE,export,Global,Mangar Health,Mangar International,Nightingale Hospitals,private equity,Simon Claridge,Winncare Group,YFM Equity PartnersStarting life as a little family business based in a small Welsh town, Mangar’s CEO Simon Claridge explains how the company has transformed over recent years into the global medical devices supplier it is today. Founded by the late inventor and pioneer David Edmund Talbot Garman OBE in 1981, Mangar...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals