Belfast company is fit for business in Dubai

Diet Express in Belfast has teamed up with Fitness First in Dubai to help its gym members control their diets, lose weight and manage diabetes and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

The company, which employs three people at its base in Bruce Street, Belfast, took part in a recent Invest Northern Ireland mission to the United Arab Emirates and has now secured a contract to develop a bespoke weight loss programme for its new client in the United Arab Emirates.

The deal was announced by Chris Donaldson, Diet Express Managing Director, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director. The company has also used Invest NI’s trade development centre in Dubai to develop business there.

Mr Donaldson, commenting on the contract in the Emirates, said: “Fitness First is an important client for us because it has operations throughout the Middle East. What we have done is to develop a bespoke weight loss programme to suit the specific requirements of residents of the Emirates and ex-pats currently working and living there.

“Many people in Dubai have trouble controlling their weight, partly due to the difficulties of exercising in such a hot climate. There are other lifestyle issues such as the popularity of sugary foods and beverages.

“Our focus is on healthy eating via a low glucose diet with an associated exercise programme for more effective weight loss and ongoing weight management. It also involves setting realistic goals with motivational and psychological features that encourage participants to eat healthy foods and eat in moderation.

“Making use of Invest NI’s sales and marketing incubation facility in Dubai and the supporting trade initiatives such as trade missions to the wider region has enabled us to identify key contacts including the Fitness First team. They were impressed by our ability to develop a tailored approach to the specific needs of their clients. We followed up the lead and secured what is now proving to be extremely important export business for us.”

Dr Kell said: “Diet Express has used Invest NI’s export services to widen its business base and to cope with difficulties in the local market arising from the current economic situation.

“We’ve strengthened our on-the-ground operation in Dubai and have highlighted the business opportunities in markets such as the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman to companies, both large and small, throughout Northern Ireland.

“The success of Diet Express demonstrates that even the smallest company can win international business if it is offering differentiated products and services and is prepared to adapt these to the specific requirements of potential customers in important and still growing markets.

“Companies wishing to do business there and in other international markets have to be prepared to commit the time and resources to explore opportunities on the ground and follow inquiries quickly and effectively when they materialise. They also need to develop their capability to sell in overseas markets.

“Diet Express shows what can be achieved from focusing and following up leads quickly from participation in one of the many missions that we organise every year for local companies and then using our dedicated trade hub facility in Dubai to demonstrate to potential customers that they are committed to supporting them.”

Diet Express is currently pursuing inquiries from South Africa and Uganda following engagement in this market through another recent Invest NI trade mission.