Tucked away in Lochgilphead, a small town and former burgh of Argyll with a population of only 2,300 people, Midton Acrylics is eyeing further growth overseas having conquered the European market.
After establishing itself in the UK and Europe, Midton Acrylics, one of Scotland’s most ambitious SMEs, has its sights set further afield as it looks to expand its global footprint.
The company, which is a leading producer of custom acrylic products, boasts clients such as Manchester United, L’Oreal and The Royal Mint.
A major employer and fundamental to the community of Lochgilphead, the firm specialises in the production of bespoke awards, business gifts, promotional display items and custom acrylic products for a range of industries.
Its market may be as niche as its location but commercial director Neil Macdonald and his team of 45 staff boast an impressive portfolio of clients which they plan to build upon as they increase their overseas activity.
Founded in 1982, the company has come a long way and recently completed a management buyout (MBO) in September after securing funding from HSBC which has helped the company expand. They now export almost 45% of their manufactured goods.
Macdonald said: “We’re already operating in Europe, and the Middle East – where we can supply our clients with an overnight delivery service – but we’re an ambitious company and have a very clear exporting strategy.
“We’re currently targeting markets in Switzerland, Northern Africa and Russia and we needed a bank that was going to understand this.
“Now we’ve completed the MBO the company is run by five directors with a combined 75 years experience within the company. We’ve got more freedom to expand our business abroad but also in targeting other industries.
“Staff are a critical part in this and because we’re a highly specialised workforce we need to ensure we don’t expand too soon and too fast. Our current growth plan will require two to three additional employees per year. Staff also factor heavily in our choice of location.
“We want to do more trade abroad but keep operations in Scotland. Our business operates as a one-stop-shop where we have our accounts team working alongside senior designers and production staff all on the one site - and we want to keep it that way.
“The further afield we go the more we can bring back into Scotland.”
Neil provided BQ with his top tips for Scottish businesses planning to export:
Do your research
What is your competition? What are the legalities in that country? Desk research as well as field research will ensure you’ve got a robust plan in place that prepares you for every eventuality. At the end of it all, when you’ve got your plan in place ask yourself, ‘is this what you want for your business?’
Identify your markets
Identify who your competitors are and how they operate. What can your business do to offer a better service or product? Is it financially viable to take the leap into foreign territory?
Accept all the help you can get
Exporting can be daunting but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Talk to everyone willing to listen and provide solid advice. UK Trade and Investment and Scottish Enterprise are two great places to start.
Choose the right bank
We went with HSBC because we wanted to export and they have an impressive global network. They ‘got us’ as a Scottish business from Lochgilphead with big ambitions to export abroad. They totally supported us and gave invaluable advice.
Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the HSBC Scottish Export Awards are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.