Lawton Tubes

When Oman-based Lawton Tubes plumbing and air-conditioning (AC) stockist Al Ansari were approved by the Oman Ministry of Health (MOH) and International Hospitals Group (IHG) to supply copper pipes for a major new healthcare project, both parties were so impressed by Lawton Tubes’ product they ordered not just for one but for three hospitals!

Winning formula

The UK-based manufacturer and distributor was awarded the £2m contract for supplying its copper pipe and fittings for the construction of three Middle Eastern hospitals as part of a joint UK/Oman government-funded project.

When it came time to make a decision, however, MOH and IHG chose Lawton’s copper products to fulfil both the medical gas and plumbing demands of the three new hospitals. This ensures the reliable and efficient delivery of all the quality copper pipeline and fittings needed for the project from a single supplier.

International Sales Director Robert Lawton exclaims:

“We received the first purchase order on 4 August, and we arranged the shipping by August 17, so a very fast turnaround!”

“It was the first significant solder-ring copper fittings order placed for Oman. Traditionally, it’s always been end-feed that’s installed with our plumbing copper pipes. We had all the products chosen for the build, available immediately as ex-stock, so the OTIF was 100%.”  
Robert Lawton

Project background

The triple hospital build is being supported by UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency working alongside the Department for International Trade (DIT).

UKEF ensures no viable UK export is excluded from the private market by providing finance and insurance to help exporters like Lawton Tubes win, fulfil, and receive payment for export contracts.

“Over the years, we’ve engaged in various services provided by UKDIT. It can be very daunting launching into oversea markets. Embassies, UKDIT and Chamber of Commerce are all more than happy to help,” says Robert.

Working alongside their Department for Business & Trade Adviser (DBT), Ajay Desai, Lawton Tubes has realised significant export growth.

“The team at Lawton Tubes shows the success that companies can achieve with the right connections and advice,” says Ajay. “It’s been a pleasure working with such an ambitious firm over the last 15 years and seeing Lawton Tubes reap the success it deserves.

“The team at Lawton Tubes shows the success that companies can achieve with the right connections and advice.”
Ajay Desai, Department for Business & Trade Adviser

“Here at DBT, we are determined to make exporting easier for UK business, and our range of services lays the groundwork for UK exporters like Lawton Tubes to thrive.”

International relations

Work on the hospitals is being carried out by International Hospitals Group (IHG), a UK-based construction company that’s partnered with the University of Cambridge, the United Nations, and the World Bank to provide British-standard healthcare projects globally.

Lawton Tubes’ already well-established export trade relationship with Oman supplier Al Ansari made the company a natural choice for the plumbing copper pipe supply to the multi-million-pound project.

“On the back of doing our overseas exhibitions in UAE and Oman we’ve developed a relationship with Al Ansari, which stocks and supplies both our air-conditioning and plumbing tube and fittings,” says Robert. “We met at the Big 5 in Dubai around 10 years ago within the UK Gov Pavilion. Building these kinds of international connections is one of the best things about doing exhibitions overseas.”

“Naturally, Al Ansari is chasing project work,” he explains, “When the hospitals project came along, and the ministry was looking to use British companies in return for UKEF’s support, it was only a matter of time before all parties came together.”

“Our relationship with Lawton Tubes started with AC tubes and fittings and subsequently we added plumbing tubes and fittings,” explains Deepak Ved, Al Ansari’sVice President – Sales, Marketing & Business Development.

“For this project, the end client wanted specific assurances on the product, performance, and warranty. Lawton’s team flew to Oman especially to address all the points of concern personally. The support from the Lawton Tubes team is always very professional and prompt,” Deepak adds.

“They also provided the required quantity of product for a mock-up installation, free of charge, which was inspected and approved by the Lawton team during their visit. Together with Lawton team’s support, Al Ansari was able to overcome all the technical and commercial challenges posed by this project. It’s a good example of successful teamwork and we look forward to launching Lawton Tubes’ Economy Coils into Oman’s ACR market soon.”

“Together with Lawton team’s support, Al Ansari was able to overcome all the technical and commercial challenges posed by this project.”
Deepak Ved, Al Ansari’s Vice President – Sales, Marketing & Business Development

Backed by over £500m-worth of support from UKEF and commissioned by Oman’s Ministry of Health, the Salalah, Suwaiq and Khasab hospitals will provide NHS-and international-standard intensive care, emergency services, and specialist baby care, using Lawton’s copper tube and fittings to service its plumbing and medical gas supplies.

Copper converts

Although Lawton was well-placed to deliver the plumbing and medical gas products required for the hospitals project, convincing those with purchasing power to opt for copper over plastic was still a challenge.

“A lot of the Middle East uses plastic (PPR for example) in its plumbing,” reveals Robert, “It’s locally made and cheap. However, we believe it’s less environmentally friendly, very little is recycled and can be a considerable fire hazard. Some plastics have up to 5 times lower melting point than copper. Plastics fail much sooner than copper in any fire. Plastic can give off toxic fumes and combust causing fires to spread. You’ll never see copper in flames.”

Lawton invested both time and resources educating the project’s decision-makers on the many benefits of using copper pipe for plumbing.

They also travelled out to Oman for a meeting with the Ministry of Health, their MEP consultant, the main contractor, the installers, and the trading partners – all in one room! Robert continues, “We went through absolutely everything, including our 25-year manufacturing against defect warranty,” he says. “You could say we were there on behalf of all copper tube suppliers.”

Lawton Tubes invested £3,000 in supplying a mock-up installation of how the hospital’s copper plumbing will work, giving local fitters the chance to use the company’s copper products and exercise their soldering skills, reassuring the client of a durable, quality finish. 

Copper products

To ensure the hospitals’ needs are met, Lawton Tubes has supplied the project with a mind-blowing 260,000m of copper tubing for plumbing and medical gas and over 317,000 tubing accessories. An order totalling £1,862,000 in sales for the company. 

Having secured such a large order, Robert insists there is more to the hospitals contract than money. “Alongside the obvious financial rewards for the business, one of the reasons we wanted to win the project is to get copper back in as the number one preferred choice of product for plumbing,” he says. “Everyone should be looking at sustainability, and in plumbing, nothing rivals copper for its eco-friendly properties. Copper is a natural, 100% recyclable product – why wouldn’t you use it?”

Ongoing customer support

In line with Lawton Tubes’ ethos of exceptional customer service, winning the contract and supplying copper product to Oman is only the beginning of their involvement with the three hospitals project.

Following on from their meetings, Robert and the knowledgeable team of experts at Lawton Tubes will be providing contractors in Oman with ongoing technical support, sharing their copper expertise and answering any questions they have, on demand.

“We offer a 25-year warranty against manufacturing defect, so throughout the installation and for the next 25 years after that tube’s installed, the client can come back and ask us questions,” says Robert.

For export and international enquiries, we encourage you to get in touch with us and discover how Lawton Tubes can meet your copper requirements, ensuring your projects receive the quality assurance they deserve.

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