CIGA Healthcare celebrates a ‘phenomenal’ year and gears up for further growth in 2022

Ballymena-based diagnostics company CIGA Healthcare has closed the calendar year with multiple new export supply contracts.

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 12:00 pm

The company which markets, manufactures and packages a range of over-the-counter (OTC) diagnostic devices under its SURESIGN brand including pregnancy tests, blood pressure and diabetes monitors has confirmed new exports starting in 2022 worth in excess of £4 million to distributors in Uruguay, Turkey, Canada, Egypt and other Middle East and African countries as well as increased sales to EU and GB wholesalers and retailers. This growth in sales marks a 200% increase in OTC exports over the same period in 2020.

CIGA Healthcare founder and chief executive Irwin Armstrong says the company’s performance in 2021 has been phenomenal: “We started the calendar year with some trepidation as we could see difficulties arising in supplies of certain components from China and elsewhere. Transportation networks began clogging up and delivery delays brought about by some confusion surrounding the NI Protocol, shortages of containers and a recruitment crisis in the haulage sector meant we were profoundly concerned.

“But the second half of the year saw enough resolutions to these challenges and CIGA Healthcare was able to successfully implement its international marketing strategies and significantly grow the business.”

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CIGA Healthcare chief Irwin Armstrong and Ellen Erskine, head of International Markets

The firm which employs 32 has recruited five new senior staff members in recent months across its international and domestic sales and marketing activities as well as its regulatory, distribution and logistics operations.

“The quality and diligence of our staff across all sectors of the business has made much of this progress possible and I am very proud of what our small company has achieved in the face of economic instability and uncertainty,” he continued.

Mr Armstrong says he attributes the continuing growth of exports not only by CIGA but by the broader NI manufacturing sector to the NI Protocol.

“It may be controversial in some quarters, but I have no doubt that the NI Protocol, despite the issues in importing from GB, has placed the Northern Ireland business community at a distinct advantage in terms of competitivity,” he added.

“We are particularly grateful to Invest NI for the assistance it has provide in helping us establish new markets. Now is the time for NI’s firms to consolidate their positions and fully exploit the advantages of being in both UK and EU single markets because we will soon see an influx of foreign direct investment and the creation of potentially thousands of jobs which will paradoxically make life harder for us as recruiters!

“The SURESIGN brand has been well established in the UK, Ireland, Europe and North America for many years. As a retail brand it has one of NI’s widest worldwide distribution networks and our reputation for quality, accuracy and supply chain management has been key to winning this work.”

The Ballymena firm was established in 2005 and is a member of the UK Rapid Test Consortium (RTC) which includes Abingdon Health, BBI Solutions, CIGA Healthcare and Omega Diagnostics, the Consortium has worked closely with Oxford University, in addition both the consortium and CIGA have utilised the expertise of the Ulster University. In 2020, the RTC developed the Abc-19 rapid test to meet UK government requirements for a rapid testing solution. The government ordered one million of the UK-RTC’s rapid tests in October 2020. The Abc19 Covid-19 neutralising antibody test is one of the most accurate antibody tests on the market.

In 2012, subsidiary CIGA Healthcare LLC was established as part of the company’s expansion into the American market. CIGA Healthcare now exports to more than 60 countries across the globe.

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