Export Champion Southern England 2023
Mr Gary Stevens, our MD is delighted to be appointed Export Champion for Southern England as part of the Department for Business & Trade's (DBT) Export Champions programme for 2023/24.
In 2020, Mr Stevens was thrilled to accept an invitation from the then Department for International Trade (DIT) to become an Export Champion for the South East UK, in recognition of Focus SB’s achievement at becoming the first and only British (and European) premium electrical wiring accessories manufacturer licensed to export and sell to mainland China’s luxury hospitality and residential construction markets in 2017.
Gary Stevens says: “I am delighted to accept the Export Champion role in recognition of the contribution Focus SB makes towards the South East’s economic growth. To be representing the UK as an Export Champion plus winning a first-ever King's Awards for Enterprise for International Trade with our trophy presented to us by HRH The Princess Royal last year will boost Focus SB's visibility in the global arena and potentially help to promote sustainable growth in key overseas markets. It’s an honour for us to be part of the programme and I intend to contribute as much as I can to share our positive export story and experiences trading with China. I am more than happy to do my bit to encourage and support those businesses still exploring export opportunities. It’s great to be recognised as one of the ‘one in ten’ British firms selling overseas.”
He continues: “Focus SB still holds the unique position of being the only UK manufacturer licensed to export its sockets and switches to China, via our established main distributor Kursel Ltd and sub distributor network, and continues to boast the widest range of plates and finishes conforming to the China Compulsory Certificate (CCC mark), outstripping all other electrical wiring accessory manufacturers based in China! In the second year of launch, our Chinese distributor became our highest turnover account (UK and overseas) with China now 92% of our total overseas sales.”
Mr Stevens adds: “I am passionate about manufacturing and introducing more young people into manufacturing and encouraging them to take up apprenticeships. I would like to think that we are doing our bit here at Focus SB by working with local educational establishments, employment agencies and local charities to fulfil that goal, and that my own journey can act as a beacon for those young people who may be thinking about a career in manufacturing and what can be achieved. After all, manufacturing accounts for 2.6 million jobs in the UK and we are the 8th largest manufacturing country in the world!”
Last May also saw us sharing our export story with our Head of Strategic Partnerships Duncan Ray invited to speak at a Federation of Small Businesses International Trade Conference, hosted by our local Hastings and Rye Conservative MP Mrs Sally-Ann Hart who first visited our factory in August 2021. At the time we were set to be the first business in our local area to install solar power, with our solar panels installed in May 2022. We were incentivised by then then Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Supertax policy to encourage manufacturers to invest in capital equipment, digital and green technologies. The company’s impressive future ‘green energy’ investment plans were of interest to Mrs Hart as well as our aim to provide real prospects to resident job seekers in Hastings along with the work we do to benefit our communities.
Last June we again exhibited at the 10th anniversary of the influential Design Shanghai event featuring over 600 brands. In July Duncan Ray attended a SussExport event at Wilton Park, an event showcasing the Sussex export business growth story with workshops hosted by the Department for Business and Trade, and at around the same time we were delighted to celebrate our Sales and Marketing Assistant Nikki Leach’s achievement in gaining a Merit in Export Documentation!
In November 2023 Mr Ray participated in the Help to Grow: Management course at the University of Brighton which is 90% government funded, with our Operations Support Manager Mr Rob Little, and agreed to appear in a video to promote the value of attending the course to other businesses (video courtesy of University of Brighton).
Read excerpts from the Focus SB export journey by our MD in ‘How to become an export champion’ on our blog.
Find guidance and support for UK exporters at the Department for Business and Trade at https://www.great.gov.uk/.