Winncare The Eagle
Demonstrating the Eagle, Winncare’s latest product.

French-owned Winncare Group has continued to strengthen its position within the UK mobility market since taking control of Welsh medical devices supplier Mangar Health – currently celebrating 40 years of business. THIIS chats to Simon Claridge, CEO of Winncare’s UK operations, to find out more about its steady growth and plans for 2022… 

THIIS: What is your story with Winncare?
“I joined Mangar Health – now Winncare – in April 2016, after the Chairman at the time, James Buckley, recruited me to develop commercial excellence and grow the business to become acquisition-ready.  My experience is deeply rooted in medical devices and pharmaceuticals having previously worked for GSK and [medical device supplier] Arjo.”

THIIS: What are the stand-out projects that you have been most proud of so far at Winncare?

Simon: “I have three stand-out projects.

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“Developing the care home market for the business has been one, with a campaign based on a value proposition to promote post fall management and support a reduction in avoidable call outs to the ambulance service.

Simon Claridge, CEO of Winncare
Simon Claridge, CEO of Winncare’s UK operations

“The engagement from CCGs and Care Home Groups has been excellent and a key success was when the Welsh Government rolled out Camel Lifting Cushions to care homes across Wales.

“The next stand out project is an export campaign. We supply lifting cushions to every NHS Ambulance Trust in the UK and wanted to replicate this in export markets.  A successful project to supply ELK lifting cushions to Ambulance New South Wales and Ambulance Victoria across Australia was a great win for us.

“Finally, getting Mangar Health ready for acquisition took commitment and commercial drive, so when we were acquired by French medical device company Winncare in December 2018, it was the successful culmination of many months of hard work.”

THIIS: In 2021, Mangar Health celebrated 40 years of business. What do you think are the keys to its success?

Simon: “Before a management buyout in 2014, Mangar Health was a family-led business with family values.  We continue to reflect those values in everything we do, always keeping the customer at the heart of the business.

“Our products are based on simple innovation with strong value propositions.  They are designed to protect support carers and end users.”

Winncare factory
Workers at the firm’s COVID-19-secure factory.

THIIS: Mangar Health was well-known for introducing the powered bath lift. Is this still a bestseller for the firm?

Simon: “Although Mangar’s first product was the first ever powered bath lift, over the last 10 years we have seen our lifting cushions take centre stage.  Falls impact every sector we work with, whether home care, ambulance or care homes and the Camel, Elk, and now Eagle, lifting cushions, are a great solution for post fall management.  These are great products with strong value propositions.”

THIIS: The Eagle Lifting Cushion launched in 2021.  What was the inspiration for this product?

Simon: “The Eagle was the 40th product we’d launched since starting the business in 1981 and is based on the popular Camel Lifting Cushion.  The feedback we had from customers was although they loved how easy to use the Camel is, they wanted something with a smaller footprint.

“We launched the Eagle in response to this and have had an amazing response from all over the world. #TheEagleHasLanded campaign has been so well received and at The OT Show recently our staff spent many hours demonstrating the product time and time again!”

THIIS: Can you tell us a bit more about how your products are distributed in the UK?

Simon: “In the UK we have local authority and national teams with a direct sales force focusing on our key channels; local authorities, care homes, emergency medical services and dealers.  Our export markets are serviced using medical device specialist distributors.

“For export, our strategy and model is to recruit motivated dealers who specialise in the different business channels we operate in.”

THIIS: The firm received ISO 450001 accreditation in 2021. Why was this important for Winncare?

Simon: “As we grow as a business it is important we continue to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our staff and visitors.  Putting a focus on health and safety and the continual quality improvement of our products has been a great way to keep everyone in the business aware of their own safety and empower them to take responsibility for the environment around them.

“This is very much in line with our ambition to be recognised as a responsible company putting the health and safety of customers, staff and suppliers at the top of the priority list.”

Winncare cushions
Cutting material for the cushions.

THIIS: How does the company set about achieving its environmental/wellbeing objectives?

Simon: “Whilst working on the ISO45001 accreditation we realised how important it was to involve staff in our decision making and ambitions.  “We have set up working groups for both our environmental and wellbeing plans in order to develop strategies that are owned by the team.

“Aligned with this, we are also beginning the process to achieve B Corporation status with the overall objective of making Winncare a good place to be and great place to work.”

THIIS: What are your thoughts on the moving and handling market in the UK, and how you see it evolving?

Simon: “In the UK we have excellent policies around safe moving and handling and increasingly we see more countries around the world recognising and  becoming aware of appropriate manual handling techniques.

“Particularly in our export markets we see the need for education, training and products to support best practice. We see this across EMS services and home care all over the world, combined with a desire to invest in protecting their staff from injury. As such, I see this market continuing to grow and we can support them with products like the Elk to lift patients safely.”

THIIS: How has Winncare managed to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and global shipping delays?

Simon: “From the beginning of the pandemic our first priority was to protect our staff, whilst realising our NHS customers would continue to need our products.  We implemented rigorous risk assessments and the whole team demonstrated great resilience, with the production team working along with skeleton field staff to support increased demand from customers.

“We also supplied additional lifting cushions to the ambulance services and medical beds and mattresses to the nightingale hospitals.  Customer support was maintained using video-conference training and joint assessments with OTs.

“This year, we have seen pressure on the supply chain but after 40 years of building relationships with our suppliers it has meant we have been able to carefully manage supply at a time demand was significantly increasing.

“Like all businesses, we are seeing significant price increases for raw materials and logistics but are doing our best to manage this in a good way so as not to increase our prices dramatically.”

THIIS: What is in the pipeline for Winncare in 2022?

Simon: “2022 is going to be a big year for Winncare with some exciting new product launches.  A recent acquisition of French company Pharma Quest will be an opportunity to extend our pressure care range and we will be launching a new product of our own into hospitals in the spring. This will be supported by a new hospital sales force and of course, new tools and equipment for our production facility.”

Winncare bath lift
The Archimedes bath lift was the first of its kind when it launched.
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