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UKTI Trade Mission leads to new distributor for Loadtec

Fast facts

Company: Loadtec
Industry: Advanced Engineering
Target Market: Asia, Middle East, Europe
UKTI Services: Passport to Export, Trade Mission, Market Visit Support Business Opportunities Service
www.loadtec.co.uk

"The UKTI Trade Mission gave us the chance to get into the country and meet key people in the industry, from Ministry officials to project engineers and buyers”
Alec Keeler, Managing Director of Loadtec
“Our on-the-spot decision to appoint a distributor was based on hard facts and market knowledge that working with UKTI had given us”
Alec Keeler, Managing Director of Loadtec

A UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Trade Mission to Vietnam resulted in Loadtec appointing a local distributor for its liquid handling solutions.

Loadtec Engineered Systems was formed in 1996 to provide specialist sales and support for the very niche area of fluid and gas handling. The company’s work involves developing solutions for filling and emptying road and rail tankers with a range of liquids.

Loadtec is run by husband and wife team Alec and Sue Keeler, who have together built the business to achieve a turnover in 2013 of over £4.5 million. The company’s staff of seven provide services to a wide range of businesses in the UK and overseas in sectors that include chemical, food and drink, oil and gas.

“There’s no end to the types of liquid that need to be transported, loaded and unloaded, from chocolate to cyanide, perfume to sewage,” says Alec. “Each has its own unique and exacting characteristics and once we understand what these are, we can come up with the right solution. We offer a range of loading arms, fall prevention safety systems, metering skids and terminal automation, as well as numerous peripheral safety and efficiency devices.”

Market visit

Loadtec has been exporting its products and knowhow since the late 1990s, mainly responding to global demand. But, in recent years the company has taken a more structured approach to market development and has appointed key partners to help with local day-to-day sales activity and market knowledge.

Early in 2013, Sue attended a seminar given by Loadtec’s bankers and met UK Export Finance, the government department that provides export finance and insurance solutions to British exporters. This led to an introduction to UKTI and an International Trade Adviser (ITA) was allocated to work with the company on its export strategy. As it happened, UKTI was organising an Oil and Gas Trade Mission to Vietnam at the end of October. The company had planned to look into this market and seized the opportunity to join the delegation of eight British businesses. In preparation for the visit, it had its brochures reprinted in Vietnamese.

During the five-day mission, Loadtec and the other delegates learned about Vietnamese business culture and presented to local businesses.

“Vietnam had long been on our radar, but we hadn’t had time to devote to finding out if there really was potential for us there,” says Alec. “The UKTI Trade Mission gave us the chance to get into the country and meet key people in the industry, from Ministry officials to project engineers and buyers, and ask them what they wanted from a supplier. The schedule was perfectly balanced and geographically spread. A reception at the Consulate’s Apartment helped to break the ice with some of the people that we would then go on to present to in the days that followed. UKTI had also organised a press conference, and an interview with Sue was broadcast on local television. We certainly made the most of our time, with three or four meetings a day and travelling at night. It was very intense, but there was a real buzz about it.”

Distribution deal

By the fourth day of the mission, Alec and Sue both felt sure that it was worth pursuing the Vietnamese market. They contacted a distributor that they had worked with in the past Singapore and now had a regional office in Ho Chi Minh City. A meeting was quickly arranged in town as the UKTI delegation passed through on the way to the airport. A deal was agreed there and then and the basis of a relationship was established. Since then, Loadtec has already received its first enquiry and Alec will be flying out in February to carry out product training with the distributor’s staff.

Meanwhile, Sue continues to receive business alerts about opportunities to explore other markets. The company is currently considering joining another UKTI Trade Mission, this time to West Africa.

“One thing that came through loud and clear during the trade mission was that the Vietnamese prefer to be dealing with a local company who can talk technical and commercial detail,” says Alec. “Our on-the-spot decision to appoint a distributor was based on hard facts and market knowledge that working with UKTI had given us. We know that buyers need to be worked on and relationships cultivated, so we don’t have unrealistic expectations of massive sales in the first few years. But having a local representative who can handle any issues on our behalf shows them that we are there for the long haul. We are very happy with the support we have had from UKTI and our ITA, and have no doubt that their assistance will continue to be useful to us as we grow our exports.”

The UK and Vietnam

Trade between Vietnam and the UK has grown strongly over the past several years and UK exports of goods to Vietnam more than doubled between 2006 and in 2010.With about 60 per cent of its population under the age of 35, there are significant opportunities for British businesses in Vietnam. The country welcomes British companies and offers trade and investment opportunities in many diverse sectors including infrastructure, oil & gas, retail & logistics, and railways and ports. In addition, the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2007 has opened lucrative opportunities in the financial services sector.The UK is the third largest EU investor in Vietnam and the 17th largest investor overall. In 2012 UK exports of goods and services to Vietnam continued to grow and were £446 million, more than double the figure for 2009.

For further information about business opportunities in Vietnam, please go to
www.ukti.gov.uk/vietnam

UKTI Loadtec Trade case study