Anacarda Ltd1umi (1)

Shortlisted for the PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards Micro Exporter of the Year Award, Anacarda's Managing Director, Paul Jones tells us about his export journey and what it means to be shortlisted.

What does your company do? 

Anacarda is a niche speciality polymer supplier. We focus on the design and development of Bio-based curing agents for epoxy resins. These materials are particularly hydrophobic, offer good cure rate with epoxy resins and are formulated into coatings that provide excellent corrosion protection.  

When was your company launched, who by and why? 

The company was launched in 2014 by Paul H. Jones, Brian Allen and Eric Van Nevel.  

Sustainability and climate change have been climbing higher up people's agendas leading to an increase in calls for materials that deliver greater efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint.

Anacarda is the leading innovative cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) derived polymer supplier that has developed a family of Bio-based resins, including bio-Epoxy systems designed especially for specialist coating applications. These products are free from Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and are registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) compliant.

We have managed to generate exports and now have over 90% of our sales exported from the UK. We are obtaining step-wise growth through qualification in new areas and having been aligned with the market-leading customers. We envisage growth will continue, and promotion through exhibitions and an increased sales network should yield further expansion in the forthcoming year. 

How long has the company been exporting? 

We started in 2014 with some initial samples and we began exporting in 2015 with progressive extension to our sales reach.  

What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take? 

We soon became aware that the innovative products we had developed were offering real advantages to the initial target market. Marine coatings with rapid thin film cure and cure under adverse conditions became our primary focus. We have operated in a controlled manner ensuring we expand at a rate we can support. It is all part of a strategy over a further three to five years and we are on the trajectory we set out.  

What is the easiest part of exporting? 

There’s never an easy means for exporting and it always presents challenges but we have been fortunate that our technical department developed products that are very difficult to emulate and offer significant advantages. Our competition has been unable to follow, which has allowed us to remain attractive despite higher price levels.  

We have targeted market leaders and agreed global ex-works prices with on-costs being the only variable transport/duty/exchange rates, etc. Wbroke down other barriers to market having looked at consignment stock deals to be put in place once certain volumetric thresholds are realised to demonstrate our willingness to be supportive if volumes are taken.

We have operated on a direct basis but have looked at agents picking up some larger business and taking a commission once qualification is made in some new accounts. As the business increases, we know that maintaining and managing accounts has to be undertaken via some agents and distributors but due to the technical nature of the product types, we have managed to link onto group technical forums of key accounts.  

What is the export challenge you’re most proud of overcoming? How did you manage this? 

Our biggest export success has been the introduction of our product to Sweden. The very demanding regulatory and performance requirements are generally considered an obstacle, but our innovative products have proven successful and the basis of their formulated systems derived therefrom.

Our initial market research had highlighted the interest in sustainable products, which allowed the formulation of products to differentiate from the competition. We identified the relevant barriers and overcome them through a mix of technical and regulatory benefits which we highlighted to the customer base.  

Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and how did it help you? 

We were fortunate to have another business that has operated successfully since 1983 (Bitrez Ltd), and we could utilise that experience and some sales channels to aid export efforts. This made things a lot easier as we could call on the experience of Bitrez staff who have an extensive understanding of export requirements 

What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets? 

Differentiate and when possible work with organisations that value the products you are offering. Avoid commodity materials unless you have advantages in backward integration or economy of scale. We opted for niche speciality materials to differentiate from our competition and allow our customers to differentiate and add value to their product portfolio.  

Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in five years’ time? 

We are seeing growth and traction which will see us gain additional business in new areas. Now we have a foothold in Europe and Asia with eyes focused on North America. For the target areas in North America, we have some agents appointed to look at promoting business throughout the region.

We will be promoting products for the first time at the America Coating Show and extending the portfolio. Endorsement from the market leaders offers us distinct credibility for all the businesses trying to emulate the success of their rival competitors.   

How do you feel about being shortlisted for the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards and what does it mean to your business?  

We are very grateful and honoured to be shortlisted for the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards. It is very rewarding to see our team acknowledged for their efforts and recognised as a successful exporter from the North West.  

To find out more about the awards visit www.northernexportawards.co.uk 

Related campaign:

PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, in association with HSBC, seeks to recognise the most entrepreneurial exporters from across the Northern Powerhouse.

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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