Exporting Case Study: Cogent
A leading agritech company in bovine genetics.
Cogent was founded in the mid-1990s and since then has grown to be a leading agritech company in bovine genetics supplying markets worldwide.
Cogent started on the working farms of the Duke of Westminster's Eaton Estate in Cheshire and built a strong reputation for its bovine genetic products from there. This market position was strengthened in 2017 when worldwide livestock reproduction and bovine technology business STgenetics of Texas, USA, became the majority shareholder with each party bringing significant synergetic benefits.
Cogent now employs over 200 people and through its export platform and large UK presence offers bovine genetic solutions to a diverse range of around 40,000 end customers, from world-leading beef and dairy producers to small farms with herds of as fewer than 10 cows. The company has been selling to customers overseas for over 20 years and has now developed a global presence, currently exporting to 50 countries. Export sales have grown over the last three years, now accounting for 50% of total sales volume.
Cogent’s business model for reaching international clients across all continents is through appointing local, in-country business partners. China is currently Cogent’s largest single market, with the company also identifying South America, Africa and the Baltic States as future growth markets. Cogent believes being a UK-based firm has helped it enter new markets due to the UK’s strong agritech reputation and that being owned by STgenetics enhances this access to markets by adding value and innovation to customers
Cogent places great emphasis on building and maintaining strong, long-term relationships with its overseas business partners. Cogent’s International team comprises four sales managers, who visit their distributors at least once a year and support them at local tradeshows. When the members of the International team are looking to develop or enter a new market, they will dedicate more time to developing relationships in that country, for example, they have now successfully entered the Pakistan market by making frequent visits and also working closely with the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Pakistan to assist with connections to relevant government officials and local players to fully understand the market.
Cogent has regular contact with the DIT and has worked with International Trade Advisers who inform the team of what support is available to each of the four International Sales Managers. The International Trade Adviser is also there to help with any ad-hoc or urgent export advice which may be needed, for example, recently they were able to provide the relevant contact details to obtain the necessary health certificates for export to Saudi Arabia.
These health certificates, alongside export certificates, are a vital part of the exporting process for Cogent, with each country having its own entry criteria. Cogent also works with Defra to obtain and negotiate the relevant health certificates, most recently obtaining the paperwork needed for Hong Kong.
West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce provides vital support to Cogent by offering endorsement for their certificates of origin, a requirement of every shipment. The team at Cogent views the Chamber almost like an extended part of the team and values their ability to endorse certificates with the quick turnaround needed.
Eamon Monaghan, International Sales Manager commented on Cogent’s exporting success “International exports have been a crucial part of our sales strategy for over two decades and form a vital part in our future growth plans, with export sales currently accounting for 22% of our total turnover. An aggressive export strategy forms part of our global approach to sales, marketing and commercialisation strategies.
Continuing our close partnership with the Department for International Trade and West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is also a vital part of this strategy.”
Hayley Gray, Export Documentation Manager at West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, explained, “Cogent have been members of the Chamber for over 15 years and it has been incredible to see their growth during this timeframe. The development in their exports over the years has been remarkable and we are proud to have supported them through our export documentation service along the way.
Their ambition to keep expanding into new markets is great to see and we will be on hand to help in any way possible as they continue their export journey.”