It couldn’t have been a better start to 2018 for Focus SB as the company caught the attention of The Telegraph’s senior economics correspondent, Tim Wallace.
Sporting an eye catching headline ‘Lightbulb moment for firms hoping to go global’, the feature explores opportunities for British companies in the face of Brexit, highlighting the importance of embracing emerging technologies. Focus SB’s MD, Gary Stevens, gave an in-depth interview which Wallace deftly incorporated into a fascinating feature, propelling the tale of a small, niche industry UK manufacturer into the limelight.
As Wallace points out, this is a big step for Focus SB as more than 90pc of its output has historically gone to a UK customer base. Under the leadership of Stevens, shrewd foresight and rapid investment in the company’s technology and people over the last two years saw Focus SB become an early adopter of digital technology, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) established itself.
However, with Brexit unsettling the UK construction market and anticipated skills shortages, this prompted Focus SB to explore China’s construction market, involving a long and rigorous inspection process by the Chinese Quality Certification Centre (CQC), and significant investment in developing a brand new range for China. Unable to qualify for support from government export initiatives, the company impressively achieved entry into this new global market with financial support from local organisation Locate East Sussex, and a successful R&D Tax credit claim facilitated by The MPA Group. Stevens commented: “We had to design a range from scratch, which is quite an investment. But the reason we did it is because China is a huge market.”
The company now has the enviable problem of how to ramp up production to meet demand, as it holds the unique position of being the only UK manufacturer licensed to export electrical wiring accessories to China.
Described as an inspiration for Brexit, Focus SB is testament to those small companies considering global opportunities. Regards Chinese buyers in particular, Stevens added: “They look at Britain as a flagship in terms of quality, and they seem to be very British-brand hungry.”
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