‘THERE are loads of opportunities in Asia for British companies who want to export, it just takes perseverance and a willingness to understand their business culture,” says Darren Baxter, group CEO at Indigo Software, who has been exporting the company’s warehouse management systems software to businesses in the Asia Pacific region since 2016.

For nearly 40 years, Durham headquartered Indigo has been developing warehouse management software for manufacturers and counts some of the UK’s most successful food and drink, apparel, automotive, electronics and baby care brands among its customers.

Three years ago, the company completed a management buyout, led by Baxter, and Indigo has since opened offices in Hong Kong and the Philippines, run by a growing local team.

Since the management buyout, the number of companies using Indigo WMS has risen by 15 per cent – an increase which has meant the creation of more than 15 new jobs locally and in Asia.

The skills shortage caused by Brexit and the departure of many migrant workers from the UK has also boosted local interest in Indigo’s software. Many companies that were previously managing their warehouse with paper and spreadsheets are now looking to introduce technology to reduce their reliance on manpower.

In recent months, UK companies that have adopted Indigo’s software include Wax Lyrical and EP Barrus.

“In the last three months alone, Indigo has secured new business wins worth over £250,000,” says Baxter. “There are other companies out there doing what we do, but I think Indigo has been successful because we take a very consultative approach when doing business and all of our software consultants have real-world industry experience as either manufacturing or warehouse operations managers.”

When Indigo goes into a company to implement its software, a significant part of the project involves looking at how the customer can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their warehouse and make operational improvements before the software goes live.

“We call this Point Zero in our project plan and it creates a strong foundation for a long-term partnership. It’s really helped differentiate us in a mature market,” adds Baxter, who has been with Indigo since the very early days and first joined the firm in 1988 as an analyst programmer.

Since then, he has worked his way up through the ranks in a wide range of roles, including support manager, development manager, consultancy manager, operations manager and latterly, chief operations officer.

It has given him a unique insight into what customers are really looking for from a software supplier. “Everyone says they focus on the customer, but I would go as far as to say that we put the customer at the very centre of our operations allowing us to build long-term relationships with them.”

Customer loyalty has definitely facilitated the company’s export strategy and Indigo has just been named as a 2019 Northern Powerhouse Export Champion by the UK’s Department for International Trade. Led by Baxter, the company has been exporting Indigo WMS into markets where UK developed software is sought after, including the US and Asia Pacific. Indigo’s first office in Hong Kong opened in 2017 and a new support and development operation in the Philippines opened early 2018 – there are now nine industry specialists in Asia.

“In Asia especially, local manufacturers and distributors supplying Europe with consumer goods need to start introducing technology in their warehouses to become more efficient and improve traceability. It’s a very fast-growing market and ‘Brand Britain’ is highly regarded,” says Baxter. In addition, Indigo has two new customers in the US and also secured new business in Cyprus with the country’s largest supermarket chain. Back in the North-East, Indigo is expanding and has just added four members to its tech team in Durham. “We have ongoing links with local colleges and universities and have recruited some outstanding software developers from them. If you want an interesting career with a local tech firm, there’s plenty of action at Indigo.”