Picture: Press Eye
In picture is Neil Armstrong, Sales Director of CIGA in Ballymena, with Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.
CIGA Healthcare in Ballymena has won its biggest single export deal following an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to Saudi Arabia in October.
The company is to supply its full range of self-diagnostic products to AM Batterjee, a leading Saudi business located in Jeddah, for a network of pharmacies around the country. The contract is CIGA Healthcare’s first significant business in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, CIGA will supply products to the Batterjee office in Dubai for distribution in markets including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. Batterjee has developed a dedicated warehouse in Dubai for CIGA’s SureSign branded product range.
The Saudi export breakthrough was announced by Christian Berglund, CIGA’s International Sales Manager, who took part in the Invest NI mission last October to Riyadh and Damman, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.
Dr Kell said: “Healthcare products and services is a fast developing market in Saudi Arabia because an increasingly affluent population is leading to a growth in conditions such as diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.
“As a result, there’s now a sharper focus on spotting conditions as early as possible and on products which encourage and enable people to spot conditions as early as possible and facilitate greater self-management of a range of conditions.
“CIGA is now well positioned to benefit from the developing investment in healthcare in a nation which is projecting a 30 per cent growth in population, from 23 million to 30 million, over the next few years. Health expenditures are expected to increase dramatically, even faster than the rate of population growth. As incomes increase, Saudis are likely to spend more money on healthcare treatments and products.
“CIGA has used our missions and other support very effectively in finding a distribution channel. Our recently established office Jeddah is well-placed in terms of market knowledge, business expertise and contacts to help Northern Ireland companies to seize opportunities developing throughout Saudi Arabia.
“Local companies can also gain practical support from our team in Dubai, now Invest NI’s trade development hub for the Gulf Co-Operation Council, (GCC), Middle East and India.”
Mr Berglund said: “This is a strategically important contract for us in a marketplace with huge potential and one which is investing increasingly in healthcare products and services.
“The Batterjee Group is one of the leading businesses in Saudi and has a network that also covers the entire GCC region. Batterjee is a widely respected business, making it an ideal partner for us in Saudi and throughout the GCC.
“The contract follows our work in Saudi to identify and work with a suitable strategic distribution partner that would be a good fit for our products and would give us extensive coverage there. Invest NI has helped us to establish this relationship through the missions and other advice and practical support. We believe that Batterjee is a perfect fit for us and will enable us to develop a very solid business base in Saudi and throughout the GCC.”
CIGA Healthcare employs around 15 people in Ballymena and has taken part in a series of Invest NI missions and now sells its SureSign branded diagnostic tests in 40 countries around the world. CIGA took part in the Arab Health exhibition together with Invest NI in Dubai last month and is now expecting a similarly large order for the rest of the GCC countries. CIGA’s products, designed for over the counter sales in pharmacies, include self-diagnostic tests for pregnancy, diabetes and cholesterol.
CIGA’s strategic focus is on expanding business worldwide and it has made extensive use of Invest NI trade missions and opportunities to take part in international trade exhibitions.
“Our expansion internationally has been made possible through the continued support we have received from Invest NI, for which we are very grateful. The outlook for 2012 is very positive and it’s going to be an exciting year,” Mr Berglund added.