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Welsh firm invests in export drive

A Welsh manufacturer has launched an ambitious export drive on the back of a £250,000 investment.

Hobbs Valve, whose innovative triple offset butterfly valve enjoys a 75% market share in UK, is now looking worldwide for wider markets for their patented product.

Targets include the Middle East, the US, South America and the Far East, and the aim is to increase turnover from the present £6 million to £15 million in three years. At the same time, the business plan predicts the workforce at the Caerphilly factory rising from the current 36 to 60.

The valves are used in the oil, gas, petrochemical and nuclear industries, and already two multi-national giants have granted Hobbs Approved Supplier status:  ConocoPhillips and Saudi Aramco, one of the largest oil producers in the world.

Managing Director of Hobbs Valve Rhys Jones commented: “In the last two years we have been very busy building our international contacts, and have launched a vigorous sales drive worldwide. This is now paying dividends in the form of Supplier Approvals for the multi-nationals, and we are hoping to add more names to this list shortly.”

The investment package has been provided by Tata subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise and Finance Wales. It will support the sales drive, as well as further research and development of the product.

“Chiefly, we will be looking to increase the pressure range over which the valves can operate, and so give greater scope for their applications in industry,” added Mr Jones.

Glyn Thomas of UK Steel Enterprise said he was delighted to support the ongoing success of Hobbs Valve:”The company has been very successful since its launch in 2005 and has an excellent management team. Coupled with an innovative and proven product, I am sure the export drive will prove a great success and move the company to another level of achievement.

“UK Steel Enterprise is always keen to support companies with growth potential, especially those which can grow export sales and benefit the Welsh economy.”

David Perez, Senior Portfolio Executive, Finance Wales said: “Hobbs Valve has developed an impressive range of patented industrial valves and has built a strong presence in the UK since it was established eight years ago.  It has also made significant inroads into key international markets and now has further international expansion in its sights.  Finance Wales has backed Rhys and his team through a number of key growth stages since 2007.  We’re pleased to lead this latest investment round, which is our fourth investment in the company.”

With a product proven in the UK market as well as overseas, Mr Jones is confident that the sales drive will deliver. “We currently have 75% of the market in the UK due to the quality of the product and the high levels of service we offer. Naturally, we want to build on this and open up new areas.

“For example, our research shows that we could build sales of £2.5 million in North America alone, and in other parts of the world the potential is as great, or greater. We are aiming to see turnover rise from  the current level of £6 million to £15 million, with 70% of this exported.”

Mr Jones complimented the work force at the Caerphilly factory.”We have a reputation for quality and innovation, and the staff here are highly skilled and trained. Our aim is to add a further 24 jobs to the present 36 in the next three years to cope with the growth in output that we are targeting.”