£1.4m loan to fund Far East expansion
A SOUTH Cheshire medical distribution specialist is to expand in the UK and abroad after landing a £1.4 million funding package.
Congleton-based Reliance Medical received the loan after switching its banking to HSBC and opening new bank accounts in China.
The firm, a trade distributor of medical dressings, pharmaceuticals and first aid supplies, opened a new factory in Shanghai last year.
It employs 50 people there and 35 at its head office at the Radnor Park Trading Estate.
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Managing director Andy Pear, who also owns Pecks Restaurant at Moreton, near Congleton, said: "Prior to us receiving this funding we were really constrained as to how fast we could grow the business.
"It will allow us to expand our stock holding and our staffing levels.
"We will be able to expand our base out in the Far East and phase two may well involve expansion of our premises here in the UK."
Mr Pear said the funding should help create around 15 new jobs in Congleton in the coming years.
He said: "We have been recruiting pretty steadily since we were founded in 2006.
"We take on a few people every year so I would expect to be employing about 50 people in Congleton over the next two years."
Before opening its factory in Shanghai, Reliance bought its medical supplies from agents across China and brought them to the UK to be packed and distributed.
Mr Pear said the combination of the two bases was driving its success.
He said: "We have UK quality assurance, design and innovation combined with Far Eastern manufacturing costs.
"And we do have some manufacturing capability in the UK which gives us greater flexibility and makes us more agile."
The company's clients include the London Ambulance Service and Bunzl Retail, which distributes medical consumables to the UK's major supermarkets.
Mr Pear said its new funding package should help it increase its export sales. It already does business in the Far East, the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America.
He said: "We have recruited a new export sales manager this year who has a wealth of experience.
"We'll be attending exhibitions in Germany and Dubai and we are also doing some work with UK Trade and Investment to look at potential markets in South America."
Reliance is on track to turn over around £7 million this year, up from £5.5 million the year before.
Mr Pear said: "We changed banks to HSBC for a number of reasons. We felt they were successful and it was also important that we were able to have banking facilities both in the UK and the Far East."
Lee McCracken, HSBC's area commercial director for Cheshire, added: "Reliance Medical's expansion plans are targeted and ambitious and we have been continually impressed with the company's strong management team and forward-thinking business strategy."
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