Michael Reid with Hudson the bear
Iced drinks machine manufacturer Polar Krush has expanded across Europe since its launch almost 20 years ago and now has ambitious plans to expand further afield.
This 'Around the World in 80 Trades' interview coincides with the PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards in association with HSBC, which is being held on 22 February in Leeds. For information on the event, to nominate or buy tickets, click here.
Polar Krush is an international supplier of frozen drinks machines which was founded in Northumberland back in 1998 by current owner Paul Goldfinch.
Goldfinch was running his family’s ice cream business at the time until one day he was approached by one of his customers to provide iced drinks, as they had been let down by their supplier.
After reviewing the product available at the time, he was convinced that he could supply a better product, and was soon supplying Polar Krush.
The group now employs over 50 members of staff and supplies its frozen drinks machines to customers not only across the UK, but across the continent.
As sales director Michael Reid told BQ: “Our Polar Krush machines have now been exported for the last 15 years and have been sold in many countries.
“We supply our customers with free on loan machines which have the most advanced technology in the market - they freeze down quicker, are more energy efficient and look completely professional.
“And what's more, they are fitted with our unique Remote Kare technology, so our fabulous customer service and engineering staff can help you keep your machine running, wherever you are.”
Having already expanded across Europe, the company has now launched a new sugar-free product range which will not only help offset the crushing sugar-tax being introduced in the UK, but will also help the company expand beyond the Bloc.
“Our product is perfect for exporting,” Reid adds, “and as we have recently launched our sugar-free range, we plan to expand further in the near future.
“The sugar free recipes are naturally sweetened with stevia which means they already contain natural flavours and colours so our customers can now offer the ultimate guilt-free drinks experience!”
However, as with most exporters we interview, Polar Krush’s export journey hasn’t been as straight forward as they would like.
As Reid was keen to point out: “The most challenging part of the process is the selection of the distributor to ensure that the relationship is a real partnership, and that the selected distributor shares our values.
“We insist on the integrity of the product, and it is vital that they offer the same level of customer service excellence that we have established in the UK.
“The easiest part of exporting however comes after the initial set up of the distributor within the market, as the sell through to local customers and the resales just manage themselves!”
It isn’t just resales to existing customers which has helped the company grow its order book either. Word of mouth, passed on through customers and distributors, has seen exports of its machines soar.
Reid explains: “Our main source of support was from customers and suppliers that we were already trading with – contacts have been passed on by word of mouth. We find that this way, we are working with like-minded companies and generally the introductions have been successful ones.
“Our export trade is now growing year-on-year as our distribution base increases and our brand is being effectively built in new markets. With the correct selection of distributor and our brand proposition, our brand cannot fail. Customers appreciate quality product the world over.”
So, what next? He concluded: “We are looking to expand within Europe, and are also evaluating several opportunities further afield. In five years’ time, we are hoping that around 50% of our turnover will be accounted to exports.”
Reid’s top tips for exporters: “Our advice would be to stay true to your brand proposition, and to select your distributors carefully. They are representing your brand, so have to reflect your values.”