Focus SB switches on to multi-million China opportunity after MGP support

Funding | Manufacturing | South East

Cucumber PR, Job No 39605:
Gary Stevens, CEO of Focus SB, of Hastings, East Sussex

Support with controlling processes and improving production efficiencies is 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 it to £6m over the next twelve months.

One of the key drivers in this expansion will be a major push into China, supplying electrical accessories, such as switches and electrical sockets, into its rapidly developing luxury marketplace.

“We manufacture thousands of different products and needed a way of understanding 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 gain a strategic view and that’s why we turned to experts from the Manufacturing Growth Programme. This assistance helped us 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 Chinese market.

“This means we can supply our luxury products direct and, along with our Chinese distribution partner, we 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 on display 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 popular combinations.

This examination of a range of data sources recommended which sub-assemblies and finished goods would be best held in stock, reducing delivery lead times and increasing efficiency through batch production.

Robin Simpson, MGP Manufacturing Growth Manager, continued: “Data, and importantly how you use it, is becoming a 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 year.”

Gary, who has also recently signed-off on the installation of a £125,000 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 guiding us in the right specialists to use. He’s also been a great sounding board for new ideas and I’m sure we’ll continue to stay in touch as Focus SB grows.”

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