Illuminating market-place for lighting firm

With a decade-long track record of successfully exporting to the Middle East, a leading firm of lighting manufacturers is now focusing its efforts on the still relatively vibrant Dubai market, where it sells £500,000 of goods a year.

Although the emirate’s ambitions may have declined somewhat since the pre-crash days, opportunities still abound for Kemps Architectural Lighting (UK), which is one of the largest manufacturers of cold cathode lighting in the world.

But the route to Dubai began, of all places, in Birmingham when the company took part in a trade exhibition. The firm met a representative from a lighting company in the Gulf state. A visit to Dubai followed and Kemps ultimately clinched an exclusive agency deal with the firm.

Kemps Lighting, formed in 1989, employs 20 people and manufactures all its products in Britain. It has sold its specialist lighting to prestige projects in Dubai such as the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building), Palm Island and also to neighbouring Abu Dhabi.

“The UK has a world-wide reputation and in Dubai they like British-made products,” says Managing Director Mark Kemp. “Some of our clients are UK-based and have offices in Dubai which keeps the sales going.”

Working with architects and designers engaged in Dubai products helps Kemps to get products “specified” for the local market and smoothes the sales route.

Mr Kemp advises would-be exporters in Dubai to do two things: get a good feel for where a product sits in the market via detailed research – and finding local representation in Dubai.

“Getting a partner is crucial,” adds Mr Kemp. “You can do it without but you may well waste time flying backwards and forwards. You’ll get some business but not necessarily what you’re looking for. An agent will push things forward”

“This is where you need to do some digging, maybe with the help of the Chamber of Commerce. Go over there and set up four or five meetings with agents. Look at what products they’ve done as well as their staff and sales team. Then make sure to choose the right one.”

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