Interview: "Asia is completely new to us”

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Guy Leaver (Photograph courtesy of Neoss, UK)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Thu. 5. February 2015

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As one of the few manufacturers of dental implants, UK company Neoss has not operated in Asia before. With a recent financial support package of £1.5 million from Yorkshire Bank, the company intends to develop new business in countries like Japan, China and Taiwan. Dental Tribune Online had the opportunity to speak with Chief Financial Officer Guy Leaver about the upcoming market entry and what makes Neoss stand out from its numerous competitors there.

Dental Tribune Online: Mr Leaver, how is this investment package helping you with your market entry into Asia?
Guy Leaver: The investment package will support our product launch in Asia initially. Currently, we are going through regulatory approval processes in Japan, China and Taiwan. It is difficult to say exactly when, but our expectation is that this year, probably in the second half, we will actually start to make initial sales. While we expect the growth to be significant, we need the facility for our cash flow in the beginning, as there will a certain amount of money going out before money actually comes in.

What are your initial expectations for the region?
Since we do not have any sales in these countries at the moment, operating in Asia is completely new to us. We obviously have projections and want to see this business grow consistently over time into something substantial.

Initially, we will focus on our dental implant system, as this is the product segment we are expecting approval for this year. In the future, we will expand to our full product range, including new products we are introducing that could also potentially target these markets. It is not an implant but works in conjunction with implants and is going to address the same customer base. We will be launching it at the International Dental Show in Cologne and and other shows and congresses around the world in the upcoming months.

Will you sell directly in Asia or through distributors?
We have already signed up with business partners in these markets. In Japan, for example, we have an experienced distributor who has personal contact with a number of leading clinicians in the country who we understand are interested in using our implant system. It always helps to have this kind of endorsement.

We are also working with a major distributor in China and will see how that evolves. Potentially, we will put a person in charge there, but this will depend on how successful we are. If we feel there are more opportunities, we can always tweak the model.

There is also an experienced distributor we will be partnering with in Taiwan who has previously distributed a competitor’s product.

Generally, we try to choose people who understand what our product is all about, are familiar with the market and know what works in that marketplace.

For Western manufacturers, the market environment in Asia can be tough. Where do you see the challenges for your company there?
As with many of these markets, business in Asia is primarily relationship based, so you need to become involved with the right people and institutions. This is particularly important in China, where there are a growing number of small private dental practices offering dental care in addition to the large government-run hospitals. We aim to take advantage of this development by choosing the right contacts for this marketplace.

Where do you want to position yourself in the market?
We want to position ourselves in the same way as we do in most markets by delivering a product that is the best there is. We strongly believe that we have a good package. Our company was founded by a clinician and an engineer, so our focus is on delivering exceptional clinical performance and product quality.

There is no point in introducing a product that is not as good as someone else’s. It has to be that good or even better. We always want customers to understand that they are getting a value product. We do not sell cheap or offer massive discounts. It is a good quality product at good pricing.

In terms of customer service, we aim for exceptional logistics and support. Take Europe, for example, it is pretty much next-day delivery, so if you buy something from us in Germany, it will probably be there at noon the following day. Few of our international competitors can achieve the same.

Thank you very much for the interview.

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