A conversation with Darren Millington, Chief Financial Officer
Rayner is the oldest manufacturer of intraocular lenses in the world. Founded as Reiner & Keeler’s opticians in 1910, in 1949 the company produced the world’s first intraocular lens, which was implanted successfully in a pioneering surgery by Sir Howard Ridley at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.
As the only British manufacturer of intraocular lenses, the company grew in strength and in numbers, celebrating 60 years of continuous manufacturing in 2009. Following a decision to divest its high street opticians business in 2014, Rayner expanded rapidly into new markets. Today, Rayner supplies intraocular lenses for use in cataract surgeries to more than 80 countries worldwide, and has sales teams in the UK, USA, Germany & Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Darren Millington, the Chief Financial Officer of Rayner, is convinced that for Rayner to continue to grow and succeed, the entire world needs to be within their exporting reach.
“Currently, Rayner greatly benefits from our ‘made in the UK label’, but emerging market competitors are quickly catching up to their European peers,” says Millington “As our competitors in China and India start to reach a similar level of quality to European products, it is absolutely critical for Rayner to lead in quality and innovation, helping our lenses improve the vision of patients all around the world.”
An innovative company that’s well past its 100th birthday may seem like a rarity, but Rayner has delivered industry-leading changes through every 4-year product development cycle. However, attracting a stream of STEM graduates to their state-of-the art facility in Worthing, a hub town for top tech firms, has not been easy. Rayner is keen to employ scientists, engineers, technicians and many more roles with a STEM background, but find that there are simply not enough in the UK.
Mr Millington is worried that Brexit will limit Rayner’s ability to offer jobs to skilled European nationals. This is a concern shared by many mid-sized business, who anticipate that the cost and complexity of hiring people with specialist skills will rise post Brexit.
This is why improved access to high quality talent, not just from Europe but India, North America and beyond, is on top of Rayner’s post-Brexit wish list. A close second is clarity on the future of R&D tax credits and patent box, which are needed to continue investing in innovation.