High End Light Switches Hit the Headlines as Focus SB Ltd Announces China Export Success

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A range of premium metal sockets and light switch plates meeting Chinese Quality Certification Centre (CQC1) standards has been developed and manufactured in the UK and is available for export to China. Hastings-based luxury electrical wiring accessory manufacturer Focus SB® claims a British and European first, as the only UK manufacturer in its industry to sign a deal with a Chinese distributor, Kursel Ltd, enabling it to supply British-made products into China’s multi-million dollar high-end residential and hospitality construction marketplace.

Horizon Classic double USB finished in antique brass, Focus SB China range

Horizon Classic double USB finished in antique brass, Focus SB China range.

This is a historic moment for the company and the British electrical accessory manufacturing industry.

It couldn’t have been a better start to 2018 for premium electrical wiring accessories manufacturer Focus SB®, as the company's China export news captured the attention of The Telegraph’s senior economics correspondent, Tim Wallace.

Excited to announce it has officially passed the prestigious CQC audit of compliance to supply its brand new CCC (2) approved product range into the rapidly growing Chinese market (3), Focus SB is the first UK and European manufacturer of premium electrical wiring accessories to have passed the rigorous process, which involved its UK facilities being inspected and quality processes audited by an independent body to ensure that the stringent CQC requirements for processes were complied with.

Sporting an eye catching headline in the printed version, ‘Lightbulb moment for firms hoping to go global’, the recent Telegraph Business feature explores opportunities for British companies in the face of Brexit, highlighting the importance of embracing emerging technologies. Focus SB’s managing director, Gary Stevens, gave an in-depth interview to journalist Tim Wallace, who deftly incorporated news of the company's export success into a fascinating feature, propelling the small, niche industry UK manufacturer into the limelight.

As Wallace points out, this is a big step for Focus SB as more than 90pc of its output has historically gone to a UK customer base. Under the leadership of Stevens, shrewd foresight and rapid investment in the company’s technology and people over the last two years saw Focus SB become an early adopter of digital technology, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) established itself.

Part of a longer-term strategy formulated by its senior management team, the company has predicted uncertainty and the threat of a potential future slowdown in the UK construction sector following the Brexit vote, and started to put plans together prior to this event to mitigate any potential risk to future trading. Unable to qualify for support from government export initiatives, the company impressively achieved entry into this new global market via a combination of generated profits, R&D tax credit (4) refunds and Locate East Sussex (5) grant and loan monies. This has enabled the company to develop a complete new range of electrical accessories specifically for and tested to the Chinese CCC standards. Stevens commented: “We had to design a range from scratch, which is quite an investment. But the reason we did it is because China is a huge market.”

Recently specified by MGM China Holdings for its award winning MGM COTAI project in Macau, also known as the 'jewellery box'; Focus SB now has the enviable problem of how to ramp up production to meet demand, as it holds the unique position of being the only UK manufacturer licensed to export electrical wiring accessories to China.

Described as an inspiration for Brexit, Focus SB is testament to those small companies considering global opportunities. Regards Chinese buyers in particular, Stevens added: “They look at Britain as a flagship in terms of quality, and they seem to be very British-brand hungry.”

Focus SB supply chain and new product development manager Duncan Ray commented: “The level of interest we have had in the product range has been nothing short of phenomenal - we have created a new brand in China with British quality. Our distribution partner, Kursel Limited, is extremely well placed to take full advantage of all our hard work and hopefully we can provide inspiration for other British manufacturers who are concerned about the potential effects of Brexit on their business."

This development could see the company potentially double in size over the next three years and provide Focus SB, in its 40th anniversary year, with the financial resource to further invest into the UK operation and strengthen its position as the number one luxury electrical accessory brand in the UK and beyond.

Focus SB managing director, Gary Stevens said: “This is a historic moment for the company and the British electrical accessory manufacturing industry. There is often a sense of negativity surrounding Chinese imported products in the UK, but Focus SB has managed to reverse this scenario. We are now representing Britain in China and at the same time providing the company and its 60+ workforce with security following the Brexit vote last year.”

Reference Notes:
1 - CQC (China Quality Certification) is a Chinese administration based in Beijing with responsibilities for the implementation of product certification. It is responsible for product standards and quality standards sold on the Chinese market.
2 - The China Compulsory Certificate mark, commonly known as a CCC Mark, is a compulsory safety mark for many products imported, sold or used in the Chinese market. It was implemented on May 1, 2002 and became fully effective on August 1, 2003.
3 - China has four cities in the World’s top 10 in terms of population and six larger than London, and with it comes a huge appetite for high-end luxury residential properties. One area in China around the Beijing greater metropolitan area is larger than the whole of Great Britain and 137 times larger than London in terms of population. China currently has 2.5 million hotel rooms and is predicted to grow to 6.3 million rooms over the next 10 years. There are currently in excess of 700 hotel construction projects in progress.
4 - Research and development (R&D) tax credits are a valuable government tax relief that rewards UK companies for investing in innovation. Companies that spend money developing new products, processes or services; or enhancing existing ones, are eligible for a cash payment and/or corporation tax reduction. R&D tax credit rates are the equivalent of up to 33p for every £1 of qualifying expenditure. They can be used as an alternative to innovation grants for research and development funding. Sometimes they can complement them too.
5 - Locate East Sussex are an EU supported organisation whose mission is to support growing businesses in East Sussex by providing assistance with location decisions and access to funding to accelerate growth, as well as providing valuable connections to local planning and economic development teams.

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