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Moving into moving & handling

Off the back of its success in the pressure care market where it has experienced “unprecedented levels of profitable growth”, Herida Healthcare has entered the moving & handling arena, launching its third successive start-up in less than two years. No stranger to this sector, Neil Smith, Managing Director of the Herida Group, caught up with THIIS to discuss the UK manufacturer’s ambitions for penetrating and disrupting an already busy market.

Leeds-based manufacturer Herida launched Herida Healthcare Moving & Handling Ltd in November 2018, following a six-figure investment, joining the Group’s two established companies, Herida Healthcare Ltd and Herida Healthcare Manufacturing Ltd.

Moving into the market

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Neil Smith, Managing Director of the Herida Group

Having seen considerable success in a relatively short span of time in the pressure care market, where Herida has launched a range of clinically proven products and generated millions in sales revenue with a highly impressive 31 percent EBITDA performance, the company says its expansion into the moving & handling arena complements its existing activities.

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Neil Smith, Managing Director of the Herida Group, told THIIS: “We truly believe there is a growing demand for high-quality, pressure reducing slings. Remember, the rest of the Herida Group make pressure care devices very successfully for a living.

“Our customers are also telling us there is a demand and that was a good start for the business plan.”

The venture has been launched as a new, self-sufficient business, rather than as a division within one of the existing companies, as Neil explained.

“Naturally, in the early days, we had concerns over diluting our efforts and therefore potentially limiting future success, via the existing business structure,” he said.

“Therefore, after deliberation by our Board, we have created a new, self- sufficient business in Herida Moving & Handling Ltd. This company is totally dedicated to a specific product range and therefore does not conflict with our already profitable companies”.

Unfinished business

Acknowledging that the moving & handling market is already saturated with established key players, Neil told THIIS that he is well versed in the sector from his experience owning one of the industry’s well-known players and will use this experience to offer something new.

“We truly believe there is a growing demand for high-quality, pressure reducing slings.” Neil Smith

“As the moving and handling markets are already swamped with offerings that are very similar and with some good companies offering such solutions, another similar entrant seemed a little crazy. Therefore, we wanted to offer our valued customers something different,” he said.

“A lot of people in the sector do not know that I previously majority owned a very successful, medical sling and moving and handling manufacturing business in Mackworth Healthcare (acquired in full by Prism Medical UK in 2015),” he explained.

“However, one of my unfulfilled aspirations whilst leading that company was always to provide a high-grade, pressure reducing range of slings.”

After undertaking extensive product and market research, Herida will now look to exploit the company’s expertise in pressure care to offer customers something different which Neil says customers are crying out for.

“Our research identified that Pressure=Force/Area also applies in any lifting process. More so, shear effects occur when using tight knitted or weaved polyester type materials that have limited (if any) stretch capacity. These aspects can distort skin and tissue. The ultimate combination of generic offerings and standard sling “cuts or designs” can cause problems for tissue viability during the lifting process,” described Neil.

“After careful interaction with both our commercial teams and importantly customers, we have been able to develop a quality range of slings and moving and handling devices that have effective pressure reducing qualities. The great news is, that this time around, these range of products complement our pressure care products within the core businesses. This would usually offer a non-conflicting option to the vast choice of companies out there.”

With full-scale manufacturing having commenced at the end of 2018, the company is now producing the specialist slings and moving and handling devices from its facilities in Leeds, having recruited experienced management and textile operatives and invested in a range of modern manufacturing machinery and individual testing rigs.

The benefits of British manufacturing

One of the Herida Group’s key strengths lies in its manufacturing capabilities, which Neil says helps provide the company with a range of competitive advantages.

Highlighting the main benefits, Neil commented: “In short, total control, coupled with rapid response and reduced lead times. All with a product quality that you can trust. “It’s British made” is regularly commented as a positive element without the need to mention much else.”

This ‘Made in Britain’ signature is also helping the company with its overseas ambitions, acting as a stamp of quality and allowing the manufacturer to take full advantage of the weakened pound.

“Sorry to mention the dreaded B-word, however, Brexit is also approaching whether we like it or not!” continued Neil.

“Therefore, we must be self-sufficient, regardless of the outcomes of Westminster and Brussels. Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, people still do like to buy British.

“The weak pound has also seen an uptake of “good value exported product”, made in a country that can be trusted for its manufacturing output qualities, that have been demonstrable for many years. Our recent attendance to Medica in November and interest in becoming a Herida distribution partner proved that. We were inundated with applications for distribution agreements.”

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Neil Smith and the Herida Healthcare team winning an award for product innovation at NAEP 2018

When to invest in innovation

With its manufacturing and design capabilities, Herida has built a reputation for its innovation in a relatively short amount of time. In 2018, the company was awarded Innovative Product of the Year award at the National Association of Equipment Providers (NAEP) Annual Conference for a hybrid mattress, created through collaboration with Permobil.

The balancing act of investing in innovation whilst also remaining commercially competitive is a tight line to walk, but for Neil, a vital one for sustained success.

“Investment consideration is always a balance against prospective revenue gains, he explained.

“However, we believe if you stop innovating, you wither on the vine. There are lots of tax credits available for R&D purposes today. These coupled with remaining grant funding from both the EU (whilst you still can) and UK governments. These help companies take the plunge towards investment into this critical area.

“As with running any company, there is a balanced approach to all things. A balance of investment is always weighed up against the ultimate commercial opportunity. Too much investment and too little return is the worst scenario. Therefore, trust in your commercial staff and their own feedback from the most important people in the equation – the customers!”

Not treading on toes

Now seeking to add new distribution partners to its network, Herida’s Sue Dolman, National Sales Manager & Head of the Group’s Commercial Teams, confirmed to THIIS that the company is careful not tread on its distributors’ toes.

“I have always been amazed by manufacturing companies who pair with distribution partners and then “go and fish in their very ponds alongside them”,” she said.

“It is not our strategy to work in a close partnership, offering detailed and lengthy training, great pricing, quality product, sales leads, building both of our consecutive brands together and then effectively take the food from their mouths. Therefore, I can offer personal assurances to our current and new distribution partners of which we are seeking, that my team and I will not enter the long-term care or nursing & residential markets and compete with them. We are here to help you grow your business and within your sector.”

“We must be self-sufficient, regardless of the outcomes of Westminster and Brussels. Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, people still do like to buy British.” Neil Smith

Herida says it will continue to concentrate on its core public sector and export markets, where it says it enjoys considerable success with distribution partners in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, China / Hong Kong, Malta, Dubai, Oman and India.

Speaking with new export opportunities, Neil said: “Outside of these countries, we would be delighted to speak to true, like-minded distribution partners.”

Neil also highlighted why distributors active in the moving & handling market should consider becoming involved with the Leeds-based manufacturer.

“If you want loyalty, a holistic offering, with outstanding service support who provide an innovative range, alongside the “stocking filling” standard range, Herida is the clear choice,” he said.

“Northern Healthcare are a perfect example of a true partner. The MD Steve Carruth and his team have worked tirelessly alongside us and are a gold standard, ethical partner who works hard for their rewards. I wish we could get a dozen of those.”

Herida's new sling range image

The new pressure reducing sling range complies to BSEN10535 standards, with Herida offering companies free individual testing or sling test videos with certification upon request.

For more information on the new range, contact 0800 1936030.


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