A Valleys company specialising in the development of innovative additives for plastics is anticipating significant growth through export sales following a strong year of international orders.
SteriTouch, based in Rassau Industrial Estate in Ebbw Vale, part of the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone, has received grant funding of £80k from the Smart Cymru programme as part of the company’s ongoing strategy of diversification and global expansion.
The funding is being used for product development and the installation of advanced production and testing equipment, primarily for the new additive brands, SCOPIC and KONDUCT. Alongside continued investment in the SteriTouch range, the company is committed to increasing export sales, which already account for more than half of its business.
Established in 2003, SteriTouch originally focused on antimicrobial additives, designed to reduce the growth of bacteria and mould on products ranging from swimming pool matting, remote control handsets, medical keyboards and decorative paint.
In recent years the company has diversified its portfolio to include a broader range of technical materials, including KONDUCT thermally conductive, for applications such as motor housing and LED lighting and SCOPIC x-ray opaque & metal detectable, for consumables in food processing.
Exports have been crucial to SteriTouch’s growth, with the firm now exporting to over 25 countries, including China, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
In 2017, SteriTouch invested in a new premises in Ebbw Vale. The company moved to the new unit, which is more than four times the size of the previous Abertillery site, to provide significant upgrades to warehousing, manufacturing and research capabilities, including mechanical and environmental testing laboratories, injection moulding machines and two extrusion lines.
Nick Corlett, director at SteriTouch, said: “We were originally drawn into exporting by our customers, largely UK based companies licensing the SteriTouch brand and using sub-contract manufacturers in the Far East. Our customers would specify our materials to their manufacturer, which would enable us to dictate the terms of business and in most cases receive payment in advance, which for a small, growing company was a very significant benefit.
“Since SteriTouch began trading in 2003, we have seen huge fluctuations in exchange rates but on balance, the weakening pound has been extremely positive for our exports, either increasing competitiveness or improving margins. Exporting can be a little daunting and the demands on exporters are likely to increase, but for the right products, it is a great time to be selling overseas. Exports will play a key role in our growth as a business in the coming years.”
SteriTouch has partnered with many international companies, including well recognised brands such as Sennheiser, World Dryer and Mothercare. Armed with a new range of products, the firm now plans expansion into the automotive sector, territories outside Europe, particularly North America and the Far East.
Speaking about the company’s export journey, Nick added: “Throughout the 15 years the company has been in business, it has received a range of support from both central and Welsh Government, accessed through Business Wales, from a small Kickstarter grant soon after the company started in 2003, to support for international trademark protection; crucial for export markets, and most recently the Smart Cymru award.”