Hastings company secures a UK first export deal with China ahead of Brexit and hires five more employees
With assistance from Locate East Sussex, Hastings luxury electrical accessory manufacturer Focus SB has just claimed a British and European first, as the only UK manufacturer in its industry to sign a deal with a Chinese distributor, Kursel Ltd, to export British-made premium products directly into China.
We are now representing Britain in China and providing the company and our workforce with security following the Brexit voteGary StevensMD of Focus SB
While many small businesses are largely worried that Brexit will ruin its supply chains by adding tariffs to cross-border trade, Focus SB managing director, Gary Stevens set out with his team to investigate how to diversify their portfolio of work even before the Brexit vote was cast.
“If the UK construction industry slows down, then the market we predominantly supply into becomes more difficult. So that started the whole process,” said Gary.
The decision paid off and now more than 400 new upmarket apartments and smart hotels in the world’s second-largest economy will show off the finest high-end light switches and electrical fittings designed and manufactured in Hastings by Focus SB.
Funding secured for Chinese audit
Focus SB were clear that they never felt that they had to compromise their own high standards to meet the growing Chinese market and increasing demand for its premium ranges – designed to complement elegant period properties and to meet aesthetic demands of UK architects and interior designers. However, to win the contract, the company needed to develop a range of products to meet stringent Chinese standards (‘CQC’), this involved having their factory audited by Chinese representatives.
In order to prepare for the audit, business manager Adam Berger from Locate East Sussex helped the company to secure funding through East Sussex County Council’s grants and loans programme. The company was then able to introduce a testing facility and hire five new staff to run this facility.
Adam said, ‘It was great to work with a management team who had the foresight to spot the opportunity, and for Locate East Sussex to help them in the process.’
Focus SB managing director, Gary Stevens said “It was risky, 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,”
On this East Sussex success story, Gary said: “This is a historic moment for the company and the British electrical accessory manufacturing industry. There is often a sense of negativity surrounding Chinese imported products in the UK, but Focus SB has managed to reverse this scenario. We are now representing Britain in China and at the same time providing the company and its 60+ workforce with security following the Brexit vote, as well as creating opportunities for other companies in East Sussex to help us.”