How East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce got What More UK on the road to export
What More UK is a leading housewares manufacturer and exporter based in East Lancashire. In just over two decades they’ve managed to get their British made goods on sale in 75 countries and it was East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce that put them on the road to export.
What More UK is the sort of company that makes you proud to be British. Everything they do is about teamwork, civic duty, and respect for others. They exemplify the values of modern Britain, and just like modern Britain they are an organisation that sees the importance of positive foreign trading relations.
Company director Tony Grimshaw is an export champion. He’s a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of World Traders and he’s been given an OBE for his contribution to British commerce.
It’s fair to say this man knows a thing or two about the export sector. If you ask him how it all came about, the answer is a tribute to another organisation entirely: East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Like another department of the company…
“It was East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce that got us on the road to export and our membership fee is some of the best money we spend” says Mr Grimshaw.
It’s high praise, but when you look at what they do, it’s justified. The Chamber provides business support on the practicalities of export right up to the strategic level. They know the international markets. They are aware of the cultural issues, the political situations, and the regulatory frameworks. Part of their job is to pass on that knowledge to their members, and with Brexit just around the corner they’re providing a service that has never been more valuable.
“The East Lancs Chamber has become like another department of the company” says Tony.
They’re on first name terms. Staff at the Chamber know What More’s situation. They know what the company objectives are. They know the nuances and the details of the firm so well that they even carry out company specific training when What More takes on a new export manager.
Access to billions of customers…
Uncertainty is a common word these days and smart companies have risk mitigation strategies. In simple terms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. What More UK has managed to diversify its customer base across the entire planet.
There are so many reasons for British Manufacturers to look into exporting their products. The great thing about it is that any company can make the same journey no matter how big or small.
Tony explains: “It doesn’t matter what your budget is, there’s always something you can do, whether you’re a big company with lots of resources, or a small start-up. You can get on the phone and start making calls, making contacts, and you could grow your potential customer base into the billions.”
When What More first set out on the journey, East Lancs Chamber, through their International Trade Team, organised a series of bespoke training courses specially designed for the company. That brought them up to speed with things like documentation and getting the right systems and processes in place.
The Chamber is a Centre of Excellence for the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Procurement, and as an accredited customs declaration service, they can provide all the physical stamps and certificates of origin that products need to get through customs.
East Lancs Chamber aims to be the first port of call for all sorts of business problems. They actually work like a consultancy and being part of a chain of 53 regional chambers around the UK, they’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience to draw upon. When it comes to tricky documentation, or unusual problems, this is an organisation that can help.
“And if we can’t help, we’ll know someone who can” says Jen Hill, Marketing Manager at the Chamber.
The Chamber, through its programme of events, provides networking opportunities that bring fellow exporters together. Companies can share their successes, point out new opportunities, and help solve problems. There’s the really great thing about the Chamber, it’s not just a single organisation. It’s a network and a community of organisations willing to share knowledge and experiences.