CIGA in new export deals as founder doubles down on support for NI Protocol

CIGA Healthcare chief Irwin Armstrong with the firm's head of international markets, Ellen Erskine.

BALLYMENA-based diagnostics firm CIGA Healthcare has announced multiple new export supply contracts.

The company, which markets, manufactures and packages a range of over-the-counter (OTC) diagnostic devices confirmed new export deals worth around £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.

CIGA's devices, which carry the SURESIGN brand, include pregnancy tests, blood pressure and diabetes monitors.

The Co Antrim company said the growth in sales marks a 200 per cent increase in its OTC exports over the same period in 2020.

Company founder Irwin Armstrong earlier this month called the dual market access offered to Northern Ireland businesses under the post-Brexit protocol a “game changer”.

Speaking on Wednesday, the businessman, who backed Brexit, doubled down on his support for the new trade arrangements.

“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 said.

“Now is the time for Northern Ireland'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,” he added.

Mr Armstrong said the outlook for 2022 was in stark contrast to the uncertainty at the start of 2021.

He said a combination of supply chain problems and confusion over the protocol left the business “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,” he said.

The firm which now employs 32 people, 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,” said Mr Armstrong.

He also praised Invest NI for the assistance in helping the firm establish new markets.

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