GBUK: healthy partnerships with NHS Trusts

GBUK is a privately-owned British medical devices manufacturing and distribution group which supplies a range of products to hospitals both in the UK and abroad. Every day more than 110,000 of GBUK’s products are used in patient care.

One of the company’s key customers is Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), which spends around £200,000 per year with GBUK purchasing feeding devices, suction catheters and gastrostomy buttons amongst other products.

The relationship between the two organisations started when the Trust carried out a local tender specifically for enteral feeding, one of GBUK’s specialty areas. As it was a small targeted tender, it was aimed at SMEs. This was perfect for GBUK.

“The relationship flourished because we do not like just to make offers to customers solely on price, but rather to identify needs and then ultimately develop a package to satisfy the aims and requirements of, in this case, CMFT,” explains Marcus Ineson, group marketing director for GBUK.

“Furthermore, we were able to offer superior customer service, competitive prices and volume based incentives, resulting in a mutually beneficial win-win situation.”

As a result GBUK were initially awarded a two-year agreement.

Ineson says that CMFT was very open to the idea of having a transparent negotiation.

“We were able to have a real business discussion with them, based on their overall needs, as opposed to a price-only conversation. We found the team at Manchester very proactive and able to take prompt commercial decisions based on the information we supplied.”

He believes key to his company’s success is the flexibility it can offer as an SME.

“We work very closely with our customers in the NHS,” explains Ineson. “We have several advisory boards comprised of key clinicians, which we use to find out about product needs and often, where there is a need for a new product or an improvement to an existing one, we can develop the product to fill that gap.

“The key for us is to ask the customer what they require to meet a clinical need. That’s where being an SME has been helpful; we’re a lot lighter on our feet. Our starting point is to ask what UK clinicians need.”

As a result, GBUK develops new product lines and takes on-board customer feedback on potential improvements, while still growing its product portfolio in a way that also suits CMFT’s needs.

Ineson says manufacturing more of its own products has helped the business to flourish. “If we get the product and the cost right, we can very quickly get increased revenues from new products.

“But we haven’t only benefited financially, we have also benefited from Manchester’s endorsement. Other trusts recognise and respect that our products and service are used by a large trust such as this one, and it has helped us to win more business.”

Building successful partnerships like this has led to strong growth. GBUK’s turnover has tripled in the last four years.

Marcus Ineson expects this growth to continue as the business plans to begin exporting to Europe.

“We expect to continue expanding along our current growth curve. The markets we are planning to enter, such as Germany, are a lot bigger than the UK and if we can make inroads it will give us a springboard to develop internationally.”

 

The Government is opening up the public sector’s £187bn annual spend. The new Contracts Finder provides small and medium-sized enterprises with a single online public sector marketplace to find opportunities by price, location and sector. Businesses can register for free for contract alerts

Businesses can also get advice from buyers. Workshops to help small businesses write bids are advertised on Contracts Finder in the events section. 

Businesses can also find subcontracting opportunities and use the open data on Contracts Finder to create apps, expand services or create a new company.