Infection control firm Tristel sets sights on US market

Tristel chief executive Paul Swinney and chief finance officer Liz Dixon.

Tristel chief executive Paul Swinney and chief finance officer Liz Dixon. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A fast-growing infection control firm is gearing up to become a global force as it prepares to seek approval to enter the US market.

Tristel plc, based at Snailwell, near Newmarket, posted an impressive set of results yesterday, as its pre-tax profit soared by 44% to £2.6million and turnover grew by 14% to £15.3m in its financial year to June 30. Overseas sales grew by 21% to £5.5m.

The firm, which now has a 98-strong workforce based mainly at its East Anglian headquarters, tried and failed to crack the US market around a decade or so ago when it was much smaller, but hit problems because of the tough US regulatory obstacles to getting healthcare products to market.

But since then its critical mass has grown considerably and it believes it has enough experience and know-how to give it a realistic chance of success.

It estimates the cost of clearing the regulatory hurdles to bringing two of its products to the American market - its ultrasound and its wipes technologies - will be around £250,000 each and it hopes to achieve approval around June 2017.

The company already sells products into 38 different countries around the world. This year it celebrates the tenth anniversary of going public in 2005, having launched itself on the AIM market with just eight staff making products for the UK market.

Since then it has diversified and now sells its chlorine dioxide-based products into three distinct markets - human healthcare via the Tristel brand, contamination control via the Crystel brand and animal healthcare under its Anistel brand.

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It had been “a very long journey”, admitted chief executive Paul Swinney.

“We really view the future with a tremendous amount of optimism. We have got some great new products,” he said. “We want to see Tristel as a global brand.”

Becoming global meant selling into the American market, and selling into the US summed up the firm’s ambition, he said.

Finance director Liz Dixon said things were moving forward in accordance with their plan for the company.

“Things are working very well. We have a very clear strategic financial goal to reach £20m by June 2017. We are on target for that and at the same time to maintain at least a 15% net margin,” she said. “We needed to be much more practised at going through these regulatory processes, which we are now.”

The firm hopes to ready to make its submissions to the US Food and Drug Administration at the end of this financial year, which runs to June 2016. Chairman Franciso Soler said the firm was in “good shape, with motivated and focused employees who are running a tight ship”.