A step in the right direction

A step in the right direction

Ripley manufacturer Flexyfoot has struck a major deal with a leading Chinese medical company to supply its walking sticks and aids to the far east.

The contract came after representatives of Huadong Medical Corporation spotted the Flexyfoot range at a trade fare last autumn.

The award-winning British design, which replaces the rigid rubber tips of walking sticks with a flexible, shock-absorbing ferrule, will now be sold across China which has growing older population.

The deal is a triumph for British designer David Goodwin and his company, who invented Flexyfoot after his sister struggled with standard NHS issue crutches when she was diagnosed with MS.

Patients often complain that the rubber foot, or ferrule, of NHS sticks and crutches slip in the wet and on some surfaces and often wear out quickly.

“The Flexyfoot bends to increase stability and remove the shock waves that travel through the wrist and arm with conventional aids,” he said.

Goodwin and his team also re-worked the walking stick grip and shaft to help remove the stigma of using a medical device.

Flexyfoot sales have soared since it first appeared on the market five years ago with orders rolling in from 24 countries and the China deal will create jobs along the Flexyfoot supply chain.

“The contract is worth a minimum £1m over the five years and will help us expand,” said Goodwin. “British designed goods are held in high esteem in China and the Union Jack on a product is viewed as a mark of quality.

“They have a huge problem with an ageing population that needs walking aids. The Chinese middle class is aspirational, has a lot more disposable income and want British products because they admire our innovation and style.”

The move will see Flexyfoot products sold by the Huadong Medical Company, which has 6,200 employees and runs clinics, pharmacies and health shops across the nation. They will also be used at hospitals.

Only last week businesses looking to break into the Chinese market received a major boost from a new service connecting Gatwick Airport directly to southwest China.


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