South Derry start-up beats established competitors to win £4m export contract

A MAGHERAFELT-based start-up has beaten a number of established competitors to win a transformative £4 million export contract.

Circular Group, which only launched in March 2020, used a £2.1 million support package from UK Export Finance and HSBC UK to help it secure the lucrative deal.

And it is now seeking to expand into North America, Europe and Asia and create additional jobs, amid predictions that its exports will soar to 75 per cent over the next 36 months.

Circular Group designs, manufactures, delivers and installs systems for the sand, aggregates and construction & demolition waste recycling sectors, with the latter re-directing significant volumes of waste from landfill and reprocessing into valuable sand and aggregates for commercial resale.

Tendering against three established companies, Circular's innovative approach, coupled with the most advanced technology on the market, put it in pole position.

As part of the tender process, the end customer required advance payment guarantees to form part of the purchase contract.

Circular approached HSBC and UKEF for support, given the company's limited trading history, and was able to secure the contract with the support of UKEF's General Export Facility (GEF).

Sand is the world's second most-used raw material after water (the UN estimates as much as 40 billion tonnes is extracted and consumed globally each year in the construction industry alone).

But sand mining is having a major impact on rivers, and coastal and marine ecosystems. Wet processing construction waste that is currently directed to landfill produces commercial grade sand from construction waste, thus protecting the natural reserves of this resource for future generations.

Eoin Heron, co-owner of Circular Group said: “We are passionate about promoting a circular economy and protecting our environment for future generations.

“The support from UKEF and the GEF facility has been a genuine game-changer. By ensuring we could be a serious contender for a major project, it helped our business unlock multi-million-pound contracts, grow exponentially in a relatively short time, and create more jobs in the process.”

Liz McCrory, UKEF export finance manager for Northern Ireland said: “Highly advanced innovative systems like that produced by Circular Group are crucial in protecting our planet's natural reserves for future generations.

“The fact that it could stand its ground in a highly competitive market demonstrates the strength of its proposition. With GEF support, it's incredible to see this start-up now ready to expand around the world and help more countries in their efforts to drive a more sustainable future.”

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