February 2017 archive

Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Buy British Goods…

Buy British - Credit: Cat Burton


How Brexit Makes British Products More Affordable


Every time there seems to be any uncertainty in Britain, we always here the same rallying call to ‘buy British’! You might be thinking it’s a broken record at this point, but this recognisable cry is not just a generic example of political rhetoric. Manufacturing was once the heartbeat of Britain, creating jobs, livelihoods and communities in its wake. Now, it’s largely outsourced around the world due to cheaper wages and higher profits. However, manufacturing still exists and the quality has not declined since Britain’s industrial heydey. Usually, you would expect to pay a premium for British goods, owing to a higher cost of living which hikes the price. Events over the past six months have begun to change that perception.

With the Brexit vote favouring a move to leave the European Union, this has caused the Sterling to slump. You may recall a similar speech being bandied around during the recession nearly 10 years ago. Essentially, when the pound slumps, this makes it more expensive for us to import. This is caused by the pound being worth considerably less when compared to a foreign currency. On the reverse, however, this makes exporting cheaper – ideal for foreign companies looking for quality goods. Even for British people, the weak pound is likely to drive up the price of everyday goods, making British alternatives more attractive.


Buy British - Credit: Cat Burton

Buy British – Credit: Cat Burton


What Have the Past 6 Months Suggested? 


Voting to leave the European Union placed Britain in a unique situation, one never trodden before. The experts and the analysts filled our news feeds with the supposed doom and gloom which comes attached to leaving what had become a comfort zone. In the months since Britain has yet to implode, the economy is stable… for now and exports have increased. Rejuvenating the manufacturing industry has been on the government’s agenda for at least the last decade. Now, in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, there are shoots emerging which suggest this could become a reality.

Demand for British goods has held and even increased since Brexit. As the value of the pound came tumbling in the weeks and months later, this led to ‘Made in Britain’ being cheaper abroad. For instance, the average spending by foreign credit cards increased by 11%. Meanwhile, importing goods became more expensive, driving the price of foreign products up (the Marmite debacle is a great example of this).

However, this is not to suggest that Britain is going to transform itself into a powerhouse, such as China or India. Instead, it is utilising an educated and highly skilled workforce to create quality goods. The ‘Made in Britain’ marque which you may see adorning some products is as much an evaluation of quality as it is telling you where it is from. Goods ‘Made in China’ come attached with this stigma of cheap materials, cheap product. The opposite can be said of Britain, despite a lack of evidence to suggest the contrary.


Why is ‘Buy British’ Regarded So Highly? 


The perception is that when you are buying British, you are buying quality. This all stems from brand Britain; the Industrial Revolution, the Royal Family and the British Empire. Its history is far from being covered in glory, but it creates resonance worldwide. In the east, China may struggle to shake off the image of packed factories, cheap labour and a lot of smog. Likewise, Britain is tightly associated with this identity of what it means to be ‘British’. This is not to say that goods produced in Britain are complete tat, quite the opposite. It’s a proven track record forged by Boeing, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, HP, Cadbury’s and so on. Each who forged this stock reputation, which every British manufacturer now follows.

Having an identity such as this gives the manufacturer’s something to strive towards. Products are designed and developed with the quality set as the main goal. For customers abroad, especially in developing countries, this is ideal due to high demand for quality goods. With the sterling at its weakest state in recent memory, there has never been a better time for foreign consumers to buy British.


Where Do British Consumers Stand?


Only a few weeks ago, across ‘the pond’, President Trump’s inauguration speech was centred around buying American and creating American jobs. The same theory was reverberated in the UK by Labour deputy, Tom Watson. The idea is that by supporting local manufacturers, this results in more jobs being created and more wealth being kept in Britain. Undoubtedly, as we move closer to Brexit, the government will look to shine the light on British goods to begin making up ground on its trade deficit.

In the coming years, we can expect the price of imported goods to increase. Meanwhile, after Brexit is complete, there is a good chance the cost of British goods will fall. This will primarily be caused by an independent Britain looking to reinvigorate its ‘self-sufficiency’. As inflation rises, this is likely to happen in tandem with the price of imported goods also on the rise. As a result, while British goods may not necessarily be cheaper, they will be more comparable. Significantly, this is one of the reasons why there is such a drive to ‘buy British’ as doing so will see more money being pumped into the British economy, rather than being sent abroad.

Buying British, for Britons is primarily an ideological decision. The rising cost of inflation will start to pose the question to consumers as to whether they prefer British cheese or Swiss, rather than which is cheaper. For those outside of Britain, there has never been a better time to buy British, certainly not in recent memory. While investors may have been turned away by relative instability, one-off orders are sometimes up to 10% cheaper when using the US dollar, a significant saving.


Buy British - Universal Screens

Buy British – Universal Screens


About Rap Industries

Rap Industries are a British manufacturer, based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Established for over 40 years, we have designed and produced office partitions and exhibition stands for clients across the UK and the world. If you wish to find out more about the services we provide, please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

What 2017 Holds for British Manufacturers

British Manufacturers

Predictions for the Future Following the Uncertainty of 2016


2017 is set to be a year of uncertainty for British manufacturing, that we can be sure of. As the first steps towards triggering article 50 are well underway, the entirety of Britain is asking, ‘what comes next’? When the country emerged from the recession at the end of 2009, then Chancellor, George Osbourne, set out his aspiration for “a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers”. In the seven years since, while the manufacturing industry has seen steady gains, it remains inexplicably far from the future Osbourne envisioned. That vision for British manufacturers was once again blurred by the nation’s decision to vote to leave the European Union.

The result poses many questions which we may not know the answer to for at least two years, which makes preparing for today a challenge. As the value of Sterling has dropped, in an ideal world, this makes goods commonly carrying the marque, ‘made in Britain’, cheaper to export. In the days following the referendum, this is true to an extent. However, it glosses over multiple factors which also significantly impact British manufacturers. While exporting to countries abroad may be beneficial, the increased cost of importing is neglected. According to the latest press release from the Office for National Statistics, Britain is importing £38.8bn while exporting £26.1bn, creating a substantial deficit.


British Manufacturers

British Manufacturers – Credit: Jamie Kenny


The State of British Manufacturing as 2017 Commences


More than six months have now passed since the referendum vote and the proverbial dust has settled, for now. While the economy took an initial hit, it has steadily been growing once again amidst increasing inflation. In terms of manufacturing, IHS Markit released the promising results of its survey, the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI. Surveys with over 600 companies revealed increased demand from the US, Europe, China, Middle East, India and other Asian markets. In the three months following the referendum, their results revealed a drop in factory output, however in the months since that output has grown to above average levels.

So, the demand is there, which is good news for British manufacturers at the time of writing. While the Sterling remains relatively weak, it’s a great time for exporters to begin reaching out to more foreign clients. This does, however, raise a question for domestic manufacturers. Generally, during periods of economic uncertainty, consumer spending tends to fall, leading to decreased sales and lower factory output. Early reports suggest that this is yet to happen, although British manufacturers should be prepared in the event that it does curtail in the months and years to come.


Provisions for British Manufacturers


Foreseeing what will happen in 2017 is tough to predict at this moment. What we do know is that the infamous, ‘article 50’ is likely to be triggered next month, in March. Theoretically, that should mean Britain will have left the European Union by April 2019. However, many speculate this process could take even longer. Once this is triggered, Britain can begin to negotiate its exit, although any trade deal is unlikely to be completed on the same time scale. To put things simply, the whole break-up process will be extremely complex. Therefore, it is necessary for British manufacturers to begin to prepare for a range of different scenarios rather than gambling on one.

One element to consider is the impact which immigration can have on factory workers. Early reports suggest that migrants from the EU currently in Britain will be allowed to stay following Brexit. However, the ‘flood of immigrants’ is likely to become more like a trickle as European workers look to make the most of the EU’s free movement of labour. Furthermore, as we discussed earlier, the cost of importing components from abroad has already and could potentially continue to increase. In order to accommodate this, British manufacturers may have to look at renegotiating their deal, looking for an alternative or find a domestic supplier.

Theoretically, the drive towards leaving the EU suggests that looking at domestic options could yield success in the future. In the labour market, employees are likely to come from a local background, opening the debate over apprenticeships once again. As Britain drives to become more self-reliant, its manufacturers who should look at home to find manpower and resources. The aim then would be to target the ‘global marketplace’, which should become more accessible once Britain’s exit from the EU is complete.


What Can We Hope for from 2017?


For now, British manufacturing is on the up. Factory output has been increasing, which is primarily driven by a growth in exports. Meanwhile, the uncertainty which caused consumer confidence to tremble appears to have settled for now. Once article 50 is triggered, nothing significant immediately changes, however, the markets and Sterling may take a hit as Britain commits to leaving the European Union. All the rhetoric coming from Westminster is talking about accessing ‘global marketplaces’ and the weak state of the Sterling means that there has never been a better opportunity to export in recent years.

Finding ways in which to access new markets is where challenges begin to arise. The British Chambers of Commerce is a great place to start if you are looking for advice for reaching out to certain regions. Meanwhile, for smaller businesses, a website is the ideal tool to reach out to customers abroad. This can be a challenge, however, it can provide a cheaper route than more traditional methods of exporting. If required, you could even hire a freelancer to localise your site in another language if there is a specific market you are looking to target.


Display Stands - Manufacturing - Credit: Cathy (HaglundC)

Display Stands – Manufacturing – Credit: Cathy (HaglundC)


Rap Industries are a UK-based manufacturer of office furniture and exhibition stands. Established over 40 years’ ago, Rap Industries creates bespoke office screens, acoustic pods, room dividers and exhibition stands for clients. For further information, please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

Why Quality Should Always Factor Over Price When Searching for Display Stands

Display Stands


Quality Over Quantity – A Forgotten Lesson


For many of those who like to scrimp and save, the idea of a bargain is always at the forefront when looking to buy. Whether it’s food, clothes or insurance, the clear majority of us will look to get the best possible price. This kind of thinking is fine in this context as the quality of the product is unlikely to change. However, a mindset such as this begins to seep into every purchase we make, often sacrificing that quality for a lower figure at the bottom. ‘Quality over quantity’ used to rule the way we shopped. Now, globalisation has driven down the prices of everyday items, while compromising on the sacred quality we once sought.

In some cases, such as with new technology, we often opt for expensive brand names, reassured in the knowledge our product is built to last. Yet with an array of alternative products such as clothing, cheap and easy are often the preferred choice. The problem with cheaper products is that there is always a catch. Usually, the lower price is the result of cheaper materials and haphazard manufacturing which is often outsourced. The resulting product usually looks great but deteriorates faster. For the business, this is ideal as assuming the product did its job, they receive repeat business more frequently. But for the consumer, the cost adds up exponentially while barely even realising.


Display Stands - Manufacturing - Credit: Cathy (HaglundC)

Display Stands – Manufacturing – Credit: Cathy (HaglundC)


Securing a Return on Investment


When investing in anything, securing a return is usually high on the agenda. If it is one situation where the product is needed, then a lower cost product will result in a higher return on investment. Yet if there are multiple events on the horizon then the cost of having to purchase potentially more than one product comes into question. In the case of display stands, attending exhibitions is often not a one-off experience. There could be several events every year for any amount of years, so purchasing a stand which will last just one considerably cuts down the ROI.

If this is the case, then investing in quality will always prevail over a cheaper alternative. Not only does it help the budget, but it also helps with peace of mind. With a display stand, a fault could well lead to harming the exhibit or even see the stand itself collapse. Either consequence leads to damage to your brand, whether you represent an organisation or just yourself. All of this leans towards seeking longer term success and creating forecasts to the future. Lacking a similar outlook can lead to bloated expenses and setbacks which are unnecessary in the first place.


What Constitutes Quality with Display Stands


Display stands serve as a prime example where quality prevails over ‘quantity’. By now, most of us are aware of what a Made in China tag means. Whilst the product is more cost-effective, it also means that it is mass-produced, using cheaper materials which ultimately means that quality assurance has been sacrificed. There is nothing inherently wrong with the product, however, stress and strain caused by regular usage often lead to the item quickly degrading. In terms of appearance, there may be nothing immediate which meets the eye. Yet it is in the areas where you are unlikely to look, such as hinges for example, where corners are often cut.

These small considerations begin to come into play when display stands are in use. If the exhibition is busy, with people walking past and potentially knocking into the stand, it is essential that the product holds its own. A cheaper version, which may be completely fine when set up at home, may crumble in a genuine environment. At the base, slimline feet are crucial to prevent a slip hazard, which makes using a quality material here essential to the health and safety of the stand. By using a lightweight, flimsy metal, there will be significant cutbacks on the sturdiness of the feet. The only alternative is to make the feet bigger, leading to a trip hazard.


Offering Reassurances for the Future


When ordering through a supplier, they will often provide you with a 30-day money back guarantee. This is a similar setup say you were to purchase a pair of trousers from a store. Beyond that, there is (bar a lot of effort on your part) no way of getting the money back. Buy from a manufacturer direct and the product will come equipped with a three, five, ten or even lifetime guarantee. So, even despite that initial investment, should anything begin to unravel through no fault of your own, you will be covered by the manufacturer.

Importantly, this provides peace of mind. There is no niggling feeling at the back of the mind, worrying whether the stand will endure through a busy event. Instead, you are free to focus on the matter at hand, allowing the display stand to perform without any fuss. Select perks like this are often unseen and they are hardly factored into the price of the product. There is always a premium to pay when opting for quality, however, this is balanced out by the service or product which you receive.


Display Stands

Display Stands


Rap Industries have been designing and manufacturing office furniture and display stands for well over 40 years. Throughout this time, we’ve seen the design of these products change and adapt, but creating a quality product has always been at the heart of what we do. To find out more about the products we manufacture, please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

Why Local Marketing Remains Relevant Despite the Online Marketplace

Building Foundations Locally Before Casting the Net Wider


When a new business starts up, one of the first calls to action is often to begin developing an online presence. After all, a website can technically provide access to anyone from around the world. Without it, outreach was restricted to a 10-mile vicinity. For many new and small businesses, It appears the logical choice when deciding on where to market the business. However, neglecting local marketing can and has proven to be the downfall of various companies. One high-profile example would be the supermarket chain, Tesco. With aspirations to expand their operations across the globe, the spotlight was pulled away from the core of their business.

As the company channelled its efforts into ventures in the US, competitors back in Britain regained ground on Tesco. Having invested upwards of £1.5billion into the venture, they eventually pulled the plug to re-focus its operations in the UK. While blaming their troubles wholly on the US venture would be inaccurate, but a combination of that and other serious issues led to customers staying away from its superstores. It is true that the target market is significantly smaller locally. However, those repeat customers form the foundations of any small business, so even with the rise of the online marketplace, local marketing must still be respected.


Local Marketing - Credit: Chris Bentley

Local Marketing – Credit: Chris Bentley


What is Local Marketing? 


Local marketing is commonly associated with knocking on doors, handing out flyers and standing outside shop fronts with signs. This is true in essence. Although in the age we live in, this approach is ineffective for your budget and your time. Digital technology has great potential for small businesses to access their local community without the need for time-consuming and expensive traditional techniques. In the past, communities used to gather in village halls and public houses. Now they have Facebook groups and Twitter feeds. Word-of-mouth has always held great value for businesses. Therefore, local marketing techniques must adapt to cultural trends to establish and nurture that trust.

If a customer is looking for a plumber, electrician or mechanic, the chances of them first going to the phonebook are far lower than in the past 10 years. The process is made simpler by going online, searching for the service they require, followed by their location. This will throw up tens of thousands of results to their query. If the first link that pops up is adorned by five stars and positive reviews, it is unlikely that the customer will look elsewhere. Local marketing now exists in a physical and digital space. So, nurturing techniques for both is crucial for any business to create a solid foundation of contacts.


Local Marketing Online


So, assuming your target audience is particularly ‘tech savvy’, the first thing you will be looking to do is to ensure your business is first for their search query. This is where having a website and ensuring onsite SEO is optimised will be crucial. Emphasising keywords on the page and optimising the design helps to show the search engine your website is worth ranking. Afterwards, improving the ranking further works much in the same way as word-out-mouth recommendations. Creating rich content which others link to or encouraging existing clients to feature you is excellent for demonstrating that your site is trustworthy.

Delving into SEO can get murky, especially if you are a sole trader as it can begin to eat away at your time. If this is the case, then a technique which is valuable for any small business is to employ a review system. These are integral to create trust, and there are various providers out there to help. One of the key problems when searching for products or services online is that you can never be completely sure who you are sending your money to. Amazon and eBay sellers thrive on their reviews. These demonstrate to potential customers who are unsure that their offer is not ‘too good to be true’.


Event Marketing and How Not to Waste Your Time and Money


Marketing is not restricted to sitting behind a desk all day, however. Getting out and about remains incredibly important for developing a reputation. Networking events are often the instinctive reaction in this setting. However, the value gained from giving up a morning to meet with businesses which may not even be relevant can be draining for both your and your business. Use the internet to gauge events such as these as well as exhibitions and trade shows in the local area. These bring potential clients and partners together and also offers the opportunity to show the face behind the business. In the same way that a web order may be swayed by the design of a site, a face-to-face customer may easily be convinced by the individual they could be working with. Exhibiting with panel and pole display boards are an excellent way of creating a professional first impression.

Begin any tactic with a well-thought through strategy. One which allows you to allocate your time to local marketing as well as to your business. Making your marketing strategy a success will require constant tweaking and testing to perfect. Whether it’s an event you wish you attend or a goal for your website, ensure the target is constantly in front of you. Local marketing is effective for your business when done correctly, but can become a horrible time-sink which can drain your effectiveness rapidly.


The Potential of Local Marketing


As we’ve discussed, the aim of local marketing is to create a presence within the surrounding community. Word-of-mouth is an incredibly valuable asset for any business, therefore local marketing serves to get that form of communication flowing. Whether it’s the quality of the product, the efficiency of the service or the friendliness of the staff, this is what the business should be shouting about. The way we consume information, however, has changed. Phone calls and leaflets are quickly passed off as spam and a nuisance, which is where local marketing is adapting. A positive reputation in the local community will provide the lifeblood for any small business and as a result provides solid foundations for future growth.


Local Marketing - Display Boards

Local Marketing – Display Boards


Rap Industries design and manufacture office partitions and exhibition stands in Peterborough, UK. Established over 40 years’ ago, we have worked with clients in local and wider communities to create tailored solutions. For further information on the services we provide, either call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.