Above: Rayner Surgical Group’s New Facility in Worthing, E Sussex, houses manufacturing operations, R&D laboratories, pre-production experimental factory and offices.
“Our plans get disseminated quickly across all relevant parties at NatWest…we reap the benefits inthe form of faster, more informed decision making about funding.”Darren Millington, CFO, Rayner Surgical Group Limited
A man of insight
Cataract surgery takes a matter of minutes and, with over 300,000 procedures carried out each year, it’s the most common surgery in the UK. Grateful patients have a man called Harold Ridley to thank for the restoration of their vision. While working as an ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, during WW2. He noticed that splinters of Perspex from the cockpit cover embedded in pilots’ eyes didn’t trigger an adverse reaction. He and an optical scientist from Rayner designed the world’s first Intraocular Lens (IOL), which is implanted when the natural lens is removed. In 1949, Ridley asked Rayner (today known as the Rayner Surgical Group) to manufacture it. The company is still the only UK manufacturer of IOLs for cataract surgery. It markets its products, which include preloaded lens injection systems, to over 80 countries, through distributors and direct sales teams.
The company has recently restructured. It sold a 40% stake to a private equity firm to help fund research and development (R&D), and embarked upon an ambitious expansion programme.
“We’re working with the company to support their expansion strategy and provide funding to help them achieve their goals,” says Claire Moore, Relationship Director at NatWest.
A new focus
The business has banked with NatWest from its very inception but has used it only for routine banking services until quite recently, as CFO Darren Millington admits.
“In the last few years, as we’ve needed support to finance our expansion, they’ve stepped in and shown us just what they’re made of,” he says. To date, this has included £12m of funding.
Centre of excellence
experimental factory and offices. “The new site gives us the capacity
to increase production of artificial lenses from 700,000 a year to three million,” says Darren. “Although we’re already well-established in many markets, the BRIC countries are growing in importance for us, as are places such as Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
“Like many businesses, we’re looking to increase the yield and reduce the cost of our product,” Darren explains. “As part of this drive for process improvement we’re trialling some machine vision equipment that inspects the lens under very high magnification, looking for microscopic defects and impurities. Previously, all inspection has been done manually, but human error and inconsistency can lead to higher levels of wastage. If the trial proves successful we will look to invest in a suite of these machines.”
An international perspective
including exchange fluctuations.
“We have a very open relationship with NatWest’s FX team. They’re really proactive in their suggestions, for example about how and when we should hedge currency – but I don’t ever feel like we’re being ‘sold to’,” says Darren. “They’re supportive throughout the
process, which we really value.”