Top tips from Clonallon Laboratories Ltd

5 min read

Clonallon Laboratories Ltd

Newry, Ulster

Firm clinical knowledge has allowed Clonallon to establish a trusted reputation in the healthcare industry and has enabled further development and expansion into International markets.

About the business

How many people do you employ? 20

Business established in 2002 and operating in the private health care sector supplying all of Northern Irelands health trusts, Republic of Ireland, UK mainland NHS, Malta, France, Iceland Middle East and South Africa.

Lightbulb moment:

How was your business dream realised – what made you do it? The business idea was based on the requirement of setting up a fictitious company and developing the strategy, marketing and financial forecasting in part fulfilment of an MBA degree programme with the Business Faculty at the University of Ulster.

As a Microbiologist employed by the healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, I was able to engage with senior healthcare workers in the US. During this time, it was common for each surgeon to have a card index system outlining all the components necessary to carry out a surgical procedure for example to removes someone’s gall bladder. This system of having to gather all the components just before surgery was proving to be very inefficient and, in many cases, when a component could not be found the procedure had to be cancelled. 

The idea of predetermining the components needed for a specific surgical procedure and placing these into a kit increased surgical efficiency. It also had additional benefits. From a procurement point of view, it meant one purchase order per procedure whereas in the past it may have required up to forty purchase orders to cover all the components required for the procedure. 

After spending a number of years commuting back and forward to the US, my youngest daughter one Saturday morning wanted to go to Crainfield beach immediately after I arrived back into Ireland.  I was too tired to do so, and I knew immediately something had to change. That was the beginning of Clonallon.

Late payment experience:

Currently holding the contract supply of surgical gowns and theatre-wear into the Northern Irish trusts. This contract involves a significant investment in working capital and as a result we are sensitive to any overdue invoices. In late 2017 we experienced extreme difficulty recovering outstanding amounts overdue for this contract, namely due to; the trust not updating their system with new pricing when the contract had been renewed and the submitted invoices not matching the price on their system. Months were spent by senior management going backwards and forwards, all the time invoices went unpaid. This had a knock-on effect to creditors awaiting payment from Clonallon.

The ethical dilemma of switching off this vital resource to the trusts was considered and to avoid this and to settle the situation, Clonallon agreed to credit and re-invoice at the old contract price. 6 months after the initial invoice was submitted it got paid.

Overseas growth and payment management:

How are you managing payments overseas? 

Proforma and LC.

Advice for people suffering late payment:

Was it difficult to approach the trusts regarding this issue – how did you go about it and what advice would you have for others, appreciating the private and public sector differences?

We operate a proactive system of chasing up late payments. We email out all invoices, statements and can provide very quickly signed proof of deliveries. If payment is not received on time, the account is placed on stop and their details are placed on a white board in the main office. No further orders can be despatched until the account is brought up to date. This is updated on a daily basis. With this system in place the number of late payments has decreased. We now have very few which are tightly managed.