We are a UK manufacturer that loves China
We are a UK manufacturer…. but we also love China!
I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have suggested, ‘You must get a lot of competition from China’. Usually followed by a comment about less than favourable quality. Okay so where do we stand on this? Yes, we do compete with businesses in China but we also collaborate with them. Let me explain. Our job is to provide solutions for our customers, usually in the field of cleaning or painting. We develop products to make our customers’ lives easier. Do they care where the product is made? We find that this varies from customer to customer and while there is a general desire to support British manufacturing, what customers really want is the best solution at a competitive price. If it is made in the UK then that is great. Will they pay more for this? No.
When we develop products we work closely with our internal manufacturing team and our supply chain partners. We manufacture our products in the best place, often making decisions on a range by range basis. Influencing factors include capability, quality, lead times and cost, just as you might expect. By taking this approach, we don’t limit our solutions to only what we can make in house.
So, do we outsource? Yes we do (currently about 40% of our output). But again, only if this doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the customer. We have to work very closely with our supply chain partners for this to be successful. How do we do it? Well, quite simply we spend a lot of time in China. We have to in order to make a good job of it. We have a subsidiary company in Suzhou (near Shanghai) which gives us the capability to employee Chinese staff on the ground who can work with our suppliers on a daily basis. You can meet our Chinese general manger on our company blog. But we also travel a lot. Much to the pleasure of our travel agents (the highly recommended Gazelle Travel in Durham by the way) we rack up the air miles between Newcastle and Shanghai. As I write this, two of our UK team are currently in the air. The Emirates flights from Newcastle-Dubai-Shanghai makes this quick and comfortable. And no, we don’t travel business class….. funnily enough our customers don’t really want to pay for this!
So what about quality. This is quite simple, you get what you ask for…. and what you pay for! Chinese businesses can make high quality products with ease as long as the quality standard is clear and they are being paid a fair price. China is not the cheapest place in the world these days. But it is the most capable.
In addition to our own products we also offer a bespoke sourcing and consultancy service for UK clients wanting to access China. Give us a call and we might be able to help you.
This article was first published on www.bdaily.co.uk on the 2nd June 2015.