“We started the search for a suitable site in eastern Europe two years ago,” said Stuart Allcock, managing director of Laminar. “We were looking for ways to enhance our service to an expanding customer base on the eastern side of western Europe. We considered other options – namely Poland and, to a lesser extent, Hungary and Austria.”
A key player in the establishment of the Vodnany operation was CzechInvest, the inward investment organisation. “It saved us a lot of leg work,” Mr Allcock said. “The agency gave us phenomenal help with our research, and also set up meetings with local officials and helped us pinpoint suitable sites.”
Identifying local staff presented no problems. With about 9% unemployment in the area, there were a lot of enthusiastic potential employees to choose from, said Mr Allcock. The Vodnany plant is expected to become as large as Laminar’s UK operation within five years.
Crucial in the early stages of production is the initial qualifying process, which is undertaken directly with customers, according to regulations set down by the regulatory bodies. This can take months, but it is vital that products made at the plant are of a consistent quality to those produced at the company’s Tring HQ in the UK.
Mr Allcock conceded that lower costs in the Czech Republic would help to take cost out of the delivered products. “Costs are significantly lower than they are in the UK. I’d be naïve to say that wasn’t of interest, but the main reason for setting up in Vodnany was strategic. It will be a huge benefit for our customers on the eastern side of Europe to have greater access to our service to enhance their cold chain,” he said.
Laminar Medica was established in 1975 and, with the backing of the CliniMed Group since 1996, is now the leading manufacturer and supplier of insulated shipping systems in Europe.