Van Os Medical opened in the UK nearly 10 years ago and throughout that time the company has enjoyed impressive growth rates. A Dutch company, Van Os is, as you would expect, very strong in mainland Europe, but also does business in many countries around the world.
Scott Crabtree is the Sales Director for the UK venture and he told us more about the way the business has performed since it launched here in the UK.
"We started the company in the UK in 2007 at a tough time in the middle of a recession” he explained. "We’ve been very happy though with the development of the business and we have seen pretty much constant growth over the years. It’s may not be surprising that a new business would see growth in the early days but we have managed a growth rate of some 30-40% a year, which I think is really impressive.”
We did think that a year ago, maybe we had reached a plateau and we wouldn’t experience the rate of growth that we had in the past as the marketplace was getting even more competitive but we’ve surprised ourselves by pushing on again and it’s been quite extraordinary really.”
Scott believes that there is one trait of the company that can be attributed to the growth rates. "We have the ability to move quickly as a company,” he told us. "We aren’t a huge corporation with layers of management, we are quick on our feet and we don’t have to go through lots of processes to make the changes that we think the market is asking for. The changes could be for logistics or for products but we implement change quickly when we get feedback that something different needs to be done. The fact is that the market is changing all the time and if you don’t react, then you get left behind. We’ll hear about a problem or a suggestion and we will go away and do it.”
Scott says that the timings of product launches have been critical too. "We always tend to launch products in the Autumn and all our product launches are what you would describe as ‘soft launches’. It doesn’t make sense to us to launch a mobility product in the springtime and then have to deal with any issues through the busy summer period. Launching in the Autumn means that you can monitor a new product more closely and react to anything that needs to be attended to before the sales levels start to increase.”
And constant product development if important too. "We don’t tend to leave a product on the market until it becomes outdated. We look at developing the products so that they are always current and a lot of our changes are driven by feedback from either our retailers or the professionals that we work with.”
With the companies selling through a large number of retailers, Scott has been watching the development of that sector closely too.
"I think retail has changed in the past couple of years,” he told us. "There seemed to be a groundswell of opinion that we would see the emergence of the larger retailers and that the smaller businesses would struggle to compete with them. I’m a cyclist and we have seen that happen in the cycle industry to some extent where the big boys became very active in the marketplace. There are still some very good, smaller businesses that specialise in cycling, but the majority of the business goes though the larger companies. We thought we would see that happening in our marketplace a lot more than I think it has. The big boys are there now of course, but there is a core of smaller retailers that are doing good things and have reacted to the larger companies coming in by developing their marketing and other aspects of the business.”
"There’s no doubt” he added, "that there were retailers who didn’t believe that they could compete when new businesses entered the market, but many of them have responded and responded brilliantly to the challenges.”
Scott identifies one aspect of retail as seeing great changes. "I think one of the biggest areas of progress has been with the showrooms. They don’t look like cluttered spaces these days, the retailers that are doing well have spaces that look like a proper retail shop. They are thinking about appearance and the layout and some of them have gone down the road of limiting the number of ranges that they carry. It does make a difference to the visual impact in a showroom when there are maybe just two different ranges on display rather than everything on the market. I’ve seen showrooms recently that just have a couple of ranges and they look fantastic.”
If Scott is positive about his own business, then he is just as positive about his retail customers too. "I think it’s looking really positive for a lot of retailers, particularly the ones that have embraced change and have showrooms that people really want to go into and buy something from.”
Van Os Medical can be contacted on 01977 681400. The website is at HERE