Bio-D is a local success story with a strong export-led growth model that is putting their unique products on the world map. For more than 25 years, Bio-D has been creating household cleaning products and, more recently, personal care products that are environmentally friendly, effective and affordable; products which ‘don’t cost the Earth’.
The company was established in August 1988 by founder Michael Barwell who previously maintained and cleaned commercial ships. As a parent and a member of Greenpeace, Michael had become increasingly concerned about the harm consumer cleaning products - which shared many ingredients with the industrial cleaners he used at work - were causing to the environment. Soon after, Michael stopped cleaning ships and launched Bio-D. Michael has since retired and Managing Director Lloyd Atkin took over the company in 2010, having been with the business since 1996. Lloyd said: “being part of Bio-D has enabled me to exercise my entrepreneurial muscle, bringing manufacturing in-house, developing the product range and taking the company to new heights commercially, while carrying on Michael’s legacy of being environmentally responsible and ethically conscientious.”
Bio-D’s product range includes hand sanitisers and multi surface cleaners, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner (found to be 2.5 times more effective than a well-known competitor) and laundry and dishwasher powders and liquids. It also produces more unusual lines - such as a yoga mat cleaner and a high-end sanitiser for cleaning up after pampered pooches – for other brands, including a luxury Scandinavian company. Bio-D has recently expanded into personal care products for some of its clients (with plans to launch its own range in the future). All Bio-D products are free from artificial preservatives and perfumes, and make up the only 100% hypoallergenic product range in the UK - meaning products can be used even by those who suffer from conditions such as eczema and asthma. Bio-D products, for example, leave out the controversial chemical commonly known as MI (methylisothiazolinone) – a preservative found in everyday household cleaning products, baby wipes and cosmetics. MI was recently highlighted in the national press and healthcare sector as being responsible for an ‘epidemic’ of painful skin allergies such as eczema, asthma and rhinitis. Their pioneering ideas and product range has resulted in Bio-D becoming the ‘best buy’ winners across many categories in the leading UK ethical magazine ‘Ethical Consumer’, as well as the recipient of several other awards.
Lloyd Atkin’s passion for R&D has added great value to Bio-D and significantly contributed towards their economic growth, as well as their sustained and new market share. Lloyd said; “Bio-D’s main priorities are to continue with our holistic approach, continue to innovate and continue to ‘do the right thing’. What sets us aside is that we remain independent and are a local British manufacturer. Everyone wants to support a British manufacturer, a kudos that greatly appeals to our export markets such as China and it also helps that we are so ethical”.
To remain true to their philosophy and produce ethically viable products, Bio-D have 100% traceability on all their ingredients and packaging and are accredited with the ISO 14001 environmental standard (less than 1% of companies within the UK meet this). Their range exclusively conforms to food standard grade BSEN1276, ensuring products help to safely control traces of E.coli, Salmonella and MRSA, and the company is a member of Sedex, while following its own strict fair trade policies. Their products are approved by Cruelty Free International, Allergy UK and the Vegan Society. And did you know that if everyone in the UK used Bio-D laundry products, 67% less water would be required to purify the water through sewage treatment plants – thanks to the natural ingredients they use? Which equates to a saving of2.5 million litres of water (or one Olympic sized swimming pool) per household!
Turnover generated by Bio-D in 2015-16 was £1.55m and for the financial year 2016-17 is forecast to reach an impressive £3.5m. The company has been so successful that they have introduced a further production line – and with a third line also anticipated the company are looking at moving to continental shift patterns and operating seven days per week (with employee endorsement, of course). Bio-D really is gearing up for a further step-change with the business growing from 13 employees to 25 in 2016 alone. Lloyd said: “we are producing 100,000 units per week, a third of which are being exported”. Bio-D began exporting in 2005 and now exports to 19 countries including China, Russia, Taiwan and South Korea; it’s their biggest growth area and the company recently appointed an international business graduate to assist with market research, as well as working closely with the DIT and British embassies. Bio-D products have a perfect fit with countries such as China and South Korea who are looking at addressing their energy and environmental issues.
While Bio-D’s product packaging is already 100% recyclable, the company is looking to start an exciting project with fellow local Hull company Floreon on developing bioplastic packaging - where manufacturers and consumers can return empty drums/containers to be turned into lactic acid, to be used in future bioplastic packaging, instead of the containers being dumped in landfills or recycled. A fantastic story of ethical innovation created locally.
Bio-D Chairman Chris Zanetti has helped develop Bio-D’s three- year strategy, which is revisited every year. The strategy has increased Bio-D’s global market share and helped retain its presence in the UK independent retail sector, and the firm recently secured a bespoke contract with a high-end UK supermarket retailer. This is certainly just the beginning of Bio-D’s success story.