Award-winning King’s Lynn fertiliser firm cultivates overseas markets

With the Mayor's Business of the Year Award are, from left, Peter Prentis, technical director Chris Gipp and Alan Lowes.
With the Mayor's Business of the Year Award are, from left, Peter Prentis, technical director Chris Gipp and Alan Lowes.
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Lynn’s Omex Agrifluids’s impressive success story cultivating overseas markets is set to continue with plans for future investment and expansion.

The achievements of the producer of specialist liquid fertilisers exported across the globe have been recognised already with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise last year followed this year by the Business of the Year in the Mayor’s Business Awards.

“I think the Mayor’s award meant as much to people here on the plant as winning the Queen’s Award. It’s local recognition in the community and it means a lot to us,” said Alan Lowes, who is regional director.

The company, manufactures and exports plant nutrients, including liquid fertilisers, and products which aid plant health. It deals with around 65 countries.

In the past 18 months the company, which in 2012/13 had an annual turnover of £10 million, saw a significant increase in its profitability due to clever buying of raw materials, such as bottles, lids and chemicals, a favourable currency and its production efficiency.

Export director Peter Prentis said: “We have spent money on mechanisation and installed a bespoke bottling line costing about £1 million. This means we are more efficient and faster and yet, we have not laid off anyone.”

On the contrary, it has recruited more to its team, including a specialist technician working in the bio lab and a field trialist, working from the UK. Internationally they are have also recruited more people, including someone in Mexico to support distribution.

Said Mr Prentis: “We are continuing to expand the market. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are working well, particularly the tea industry in Assam, and in South Africa, we have a consultant researching the potential for development. We don’t just focus on the BRIC countries – we are widespread across the world.”

It is also important to monitor the international political scene as this can affect the business, such as the recent dispute between Russia and Ukraine. “It has not badly affected us, but our plans have been scaled back,” said Mr Prentis.

Back in Lynn, last year Omex bought adjoining premises in Acer Road, which is currently used for storage but is earmarked to become a new production line in the future.

And in the last few months it has also set up a research glasshouse which enables preliminary product screening to take place, something which is expensive to source elsewhere.

Exciting times lay ahead as the company is now working on a new line of products. Said Mr Lowes: “Proudcts are being developed which could take us into new areas. They are focused on ‘crop health’. We are currently working with some UK universities on research and development.”

In the future the company has it sights set on winning the Queen’s Award again and future growth. Said Mr Prentis: “If we can grow the business sustainably, we can expand this plant in Lynn. Possibly in the long-term future, we may move to bigger premises, but we want to remain as manufacturers in the UK.”