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Mar 18 2013

News » Winning export race

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Winning export race

Our West Sussex distributor has swapped singing sheep for thoroughbred horses in the oil-rich Middle East.

Universal Trailers are riding the crest of a growing export trade to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and other centres.

For when it comes to racehorses as well as football clubs Middle Eastern owners can afford the very best.

Now the firm, based in Billinghurst, is helping to ensure that the best horses are carried in style.

Universal Trailers is forging strong links with the rapidly growing equestrian industry in that part of the world.

One wealthy Arab recently asked that his trailer be shipped in the same container as his other new purchase, a Bentley limousine.

"Interest in horses is huge in the Middle East and the potential for business out there is massive," said director Mark Betts.

The company has received some unusual requests in the past.

In 2009 they provided a trailer for a humorous TV ad for the new VW Passat which showed sheep singing as they were being transported.

The ad was shot near Canary Wharf and Universal Trailers had to make certain amendments to the trailer to achieve the desired effect of the sheep with their heads sticking out of the side as the Passat cruised past.

Andrew Reece-Jones, the Design Engineering Manager, was delighted with the burgeoning export opportunities in the Middle East.

As well as being sold through a network of 50 UK distributors, the trailers are also exported all over the world with distributors across mainland Europe and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Reece-Jones said: "The growing export market in the Middle East is great news.

"Our trailers have the well-deserved reputation of being very sturdy and long-lasting trailers. They are well engineered.

"It is gratifying that we are doing well in a market where our hallmark of quality is appreciated."

Universal Trailers was established as a family business in 1982 and is now one of the UK’s largest retailers of new and used trailers. A key factor in the new Middle East trade is that the West Sussex firm is a major distributor for Ifor Williams Trailers, which are manufactured in North Wales.

The first hint at the potential came in 2007 when a Sussex woman with links to equestrian sport in Bahrain asked Universal if they could supply a single trailer for an exhibition.

Mr Betts said: "We did that, and it attracted far more interest than was initially imagined."

In the past couple of years trade has grown substantially and the HB610 twin-axle models, designed to carry two horses or up to five ponies, have been among the most popular.

"The most recent one has gone to Oman for Arab racehorses and the previous one went to Dubai for endurance horses," said Mr Betts.

A consignment of two new HB511 and one HB506 trailers for larger horses have also gone to an equestrian centre and three more HB505s are due to be shipped out very shortly.

"Through our Middle East contact we have also sent a consignment of used horse trailers to Libya, but they specified we must not send any green ones because that was Colonel Gaddafi’s favourite colour," added Mr Betts.

"The level of interest in equestrian sports including endurance racing and polo is massive and some of the horse shows are enormous," he said.

The trailers are shipped out from Southampton, and are transported in containers, which presents some problems for Universal as space is so tight.

"To get them into the containers we have to remove the wheels, mudguards, axles and springs, and in one recent case we had to use the springs almost as skis underneath to squeeze the trailers in," said Mark.

Another common request from their Middle East contact is for the trailers to be packed to the roof with horsefood, tack and other equestrian products, which Universal Trailers arrange through local dealers.

30450.53975.file.eng.04 Uni.579.400

Left - Tom Betts. Right - Mark Betts. Tom ran the London Marathon on April 21st.

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News » Winning export race

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