Sligo to get a boost from El Salvador connection

B Braun subsidiary plans to bump up sales of medical products made in northwest

A distributor in El Salvador of medical products that are manufactured in Sligo is aiming to achieve a 20-fold increase in sales of the products in Central America and the Caribbean.

The San Salvador subsidiary of B Braun, a large German medical and pharmaceutical company, sells bandages and other products used to treat wounds. The products are developed and manufactured at Collooney in Co Sligo.

At the centre of a distribution network covering 10 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean area, the Salvadoran B Braun records sales of €11 million across all divisions of healthcare products produced by the German healthcare giant but aims to increase this to €25 million in 2015.

Buying from Sligo
The company buys €300,000 worth of products made in Sligo, distributed through Germany, but it will look to grow this to €5 million by selling into other markets in the region.

"We are increasing good relations and we believe that we will grow 20 times in five years the size of the Irish business in the whole region," said Rafael Amaya, the managing director of the Salvadoran company.


“We know we can replicate this model in every single country of Central America and the Caribbean.”

Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, a native of Sligo, visited the company during President Michael D Higgins's Latin American tour of Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

At the company on Saturday, Mr Costello said exports played a key role in Ireland’s economic recovery and exploring and opening up new markets in Latin America were important.

On the 12-day tour of Central America, the junior minister has been promoting Ireland as a “stepping stone” for Latin American companies looking to sell into Europe while also trying to establish links for Irish products to be exported into Latin America.

Describing B Braun’s Salvadoran distribution centre as a “gateway for Irish products” into Central America and the Caribbean, he said that the business is “enormously valuable” for the Sligo operation.

“It is a feather in the cap for Ireland . . . there are 1,200 Irish employees in Sligo producing this product, which is a world-class product,” he said.

The Sligo company was established as Hospicare in 1984 before being acquired 10 years later by B Braun, which has annual sales of about $5 billion (€3.7 billion) and 49,000 employees in 72 countries.

Among the company's products is a silver alginate wound dressing, which heals wounds twice as fast as other dressings, while the antibacterial properties of the silver prevents infection.

New products
The Sligo business includes a research division that develops new products for the company.

Trade in goods and services between Ireland and El Salvador amounted to just over €27 million last year, largely comprising infant foods. Computer parts are also exported from Ireland to El Salvador.

Digicel, the telecoms company owned by Irish businessman Denis O’Brien, is the second- largest mobile phone operator in the country.

Irish Aid provided more than €7 million in El Salvador between 2003 and 2012 through a fund managed by the Salvadoran ministry of foreign affairs, to support development work by community groups.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times