Focus SB switches on to £multi-million China opportunity after MGP support
Support on controlling processes and improving production efficiencies are helping a Sussex manufacturer make the most of a multi-million pound Far East opportunity.
Focus SB, which is a market leader in electrical wiring accessories, has accessed support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to implement a tailored Materials Requirement Planning & Enterprise Resource Planning (MRP/ERP) system at its factory in St Leonards-on-Sea.
This £200,000 investment has introduced a new way of working and given it the platform to build on an increase in turnover to £4.7m in 2018, with the plan to take that to £6m between now and 2020.
One of the key drivers in this expansion will be a major push into China, supplying electrical accessories like switches and electrical sockets into the rapidly developing luxury marketplace.
“We have thousands of different products we manufacture and needed a way of understanding the demand for each item and how we can then use that information to better plan and control production,” commented Gary Stevens, Managing Director of Focus SB.
“As a busy SME it’s sometimes difficult to take yourself out of the business to take a strategic view and that’s where we turned to experts from the Manufacturing Growth Programme. This assistance helped us to sharpen our thinking and explore the finer details and this eventually led to a new way of working and a sizeable investment into a new MRP/ERP system.”
He went on to add: “It was a real learning curve, but the results will be fantastic. We now have full visibility of materials, stock, demand and any processes that may need to be improved.
“It was important that we made this change, as we have some very exciting opportunities to explore, not least maximising the fact we are the only UK and European electrical supplier to hold China Quality Certification for the manufacture of electrical accessories in the UK for export into the China market”.
“This means we can supply our luxury products direct to this market and along with our China distribution partner have already invested in a showroom at the Jin Mau Tower to support a marketing drive to treble existing sales in China to £1.5m.”
Focus SB, who has its products in high profile locations such as Windsor Castle and the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, has worked with the Manufacturing Growth Programme for nearly a year now, using its experts and specialists to analyse demand trends with a view to identifying the fastest moving and typical combinations.
This examination of a range of data source recommend which sub-assemblies and finished good would be best held in stock, reducing delivery lead times and increasing efficiency through batch production and reducing the need to manufacture to order.
Robin Simpson, MGP Manufacturing Growth Manager, continued: “Data, and importantly how you use it, is becoming the most valuable currency for SMEs and we are delighted to see Focus SB understand its processes and then subsequently invest in a new MRP/ERP system.
“The business has many international opportunities and it is vital that the right manufacturing platform is in place to make the most of them. This is now the case and the management team can concentrate on increasing revenues to £6m over the next two years.”
Gary, who has also recently signed off on a £125k robot cell, concluded: “Being able to access external experts has been a major benefit for our business and I can’t fault the process of gaining the support and the grant.
“Robin took the strain, helping us fill out any paperwork and guided in us in the right specialists to use. He’s also been a great sounding board for new ideas we have and I’m sure we’ll continue to stay in touch as Focus SB grows.”
Gary Stevens, managing director, Focus SB Ltd.
Robin Simpson, manufacturing growth manager, Economic Growth Solutions.