Hosted by Focus SB’s Head of Strategic Partnerships Duncan Ray, Deputy HM Trade Commissioner for China Tom Duke, from the Department for International Trade (DIT), enjoyed a private tour of the British premium electrical wiring accessories manufacturer’s head office and main factory on the outskirts of Hastings on Friday 12th August, facilitated by Made in Britain.
On behalf of the DIT, representing British interests around the world and with a robust on-the-ground presence in China helping exporters access and build their pipelines, Mr Duke was keen to visit Focus SB in person to learn more about the business and to understand how the company has been managing uncertainty in the China market over the past several years.
Company representatives emphasised the company’s strong community-spirited ethics and green manufacturing credentials to Mr Duke, as well as its ongoing significant investments in people, recycling, solar power and automation over the last five years and management’s industry-leading vision for a sustainable future, actively seeking ways to become ‘greener’ throughout the business including recent action to change to a green energy supplier at contract renewal with the supplier’s credentials take priority over cost.
Given a demonstration of Focus SB’s latest investment in CNC and laser marking technology efficiencies, significantly limiting the company’s use of environmentally damaging consumables and reducing waste, Mr Duke was keen to understand the challenges the current political climate presents and explore what the company needs from future governments.
Tom Duke said: “DIT supports UK exporters like Focus SB in China to overcome market access barriers, navigate a complex regulatory, economic and strategic context, and make the most of opportunities represented by the UK’s third-largest trade partner.
“Companies like Focus SB, a DIT South East England Export Champion, represent the best of the UK. It is vitally important to ensure they continue to enjoy healthy and sustainable growth in key overseas markets. That’s why I’m visiting today, and why the work of DIT - alongside the Made in Britain industry association and other partners - is so crucial to the future of British manufacturing.”
Duncan Ray commented: “Pandemic restrictions over the last couple of years have slowed business-critical conversations with distributors, customers, suppliers and technical partners in what should have been a boom time in exports for us, particularly to China’s lucrative luxury construction market, key to a financially secure future for us as a UK employer. Focus SB’s China export success story made a real splash in our industry in 2017 and we had to invest heavily in a couple of years of rigorous product testing and inspection processes, so the timing of the pandemic couldn’t have been worse!"
He continued: “In spite of many hurdles to overcome, including the negative impact of a slow down in construction, we’ve had products specified for prestigious projects such as MGM Cotai, Harrods Tea Rooms Shanghai, two VIP lounges in two of Shanghai’s main airports where the quality and sustainable credentials of our products were key to the designers. More recently our products were specified for The Londoner Macao including the award winning suites by David Beckham!"
Mr Ray concluded: “We look forward to a more positive outlook on what is potentially our biggest export market over the coming months, and have welcomed support from the DIT in the UK and on the ground at events in China since the start, including recognition of our company’s achievement with our MD Gary Stevens accepting an invitation to become an Export Champion for the South East UK in 2020. More government support for us as a British manufacturer seeking to grow our exports would be welcome as we struggle with ongoing labour shortages and general supply chain issues impacted by Brexit and the pandemic."
Made in Britain CEO John Pearce commented: "Made in Britain is delighted to be working with the DIT to facilitate a series of visits to manufacturing firms that export to China. Companies such as Focus SB - successful British manufacturers that have made their mark at home and overseas - represent the innovation, commitment and agility that are the hallmarks of our manufacturing community."
Find out more about Focus SB on their member profile page here