Dr Jayne McIntyre, nutritionist at Clinivet in Randalstown, readily admits that taking part in Invest Northern Ireland’s Passport to Export programme has given her a vast amount of knowledge about exporting and the confidence needed to help the small Co Antrim company grow its business overseas. Clinivet currently employs 17 people in the development, manufacture and marketing of super premium pet food.
“We are very keen to build on the business that we already have in some European markets, most notably the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece, and so I signed up for virtually all the workshops that Passport to Export offers for inexperienced exporters,” Dr McIntyre says. “Building export skills is essential if we are to achieve our ambitious mission statement ‘to ensure that every animal throughout the world has the opportunity to enjoy health, happiness and supreme conditioning through Clinivet 100% Natural Complete Food’.
“The export workshops were excellent, well organised and pitched at the right level for someone like myself with limited experience in exporting. I found all the course leaders to be knowledgeable and very helpful. I learned some extremely useful tips about how to win business in our target markets. I can thoroughly recommend this Invest NI programme,” she adds.
Dr McIntyre was also able to use the knowledge and skills gained from the workshops when she took part in a recent Invest NI trade mission to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. “I was a bit apprehensive about the mission, my first. But the other mission members were extremely supportive. There was great camaraderie and I learned a lot from them and from the trip.”
The workshops that Dr McIntyre attended covered essential areas such as sales, negotiation skills, customer relations, presentation and export administration. The programme is also open to experienced exporters wishing to refresh their skills.
Clinivet was launched in October 2002 by Favour Pet Foods, a family-owned company that has been producing pet food since 1982. Favour specialises in complete dried dog food and was the first of its type in the grocery sector in Northern Ireland. Favour brands are stocked by all local grocery retailers, major multiples/cash and carry stores and major symbol group distributors.
“We developed Clinivet to meet a fast developing market demand that we had pinpointed for a super premium food using only the highest quality natural ingredients. It’s free from gluten, dairy and soya and offers owners a lifestyle diet for all pet ages. It’s been a success in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and parts of Great Britain. Our challenge now is to build our export markets.”
Invest NI’s Passport to Export enables companies to reach export goals quicker, better prepared and more cost effectively than would otherwise be possible. The programme offers a broad range of services that can be tailored to the growth needs of each individual business. The programme includes:
•An Export Check – this examines the export capability of the company and outlines the best route to export success;
•Development of export knowledge, helping companies to learn new skills through focused workshops;
•Preparation for exporting, which provides access to experienced export advisers and market researchers who will help to develop export plans, to identify suitable partners or to form strategic alliances;
•Market visits to help companies gain first-hand information about a target market by taking part in trade missions or trade fairs; and
•Market presence provided by Invest NI’s in-market support services.