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February Claret Club Meeting Offers Some Inspiring Insights for Manufacturers

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The regular meetings of the BHP Claret Club have led to even greater success for some of the region’s most successful SME’s. With a wealth of fascinating debates from exporting to staff retention to the macroeconomic environment there is never a quiet or a dull moment at the events. The Claret Club provides practical support and inspiration to its members whilst at the same time everyone is able to enjoy good food, wine and company.

What Is The Claret Club?

The Claret Club was formed back in 2012 following a meeting with the Managing Director of Hargreaves Foundry, Michael Hinchliffe.

At the time, Michael was involved in the casting of more than 400 columns used for a unique site now positioned at One Pancras Square in Kings Cross, London. Using this project as an example, Michael was quick to highlight to everyone at BHP the need to actually make something tangible. In doing so, manufacturers face a unique combination of challenges and obstacles that require an entirely different perspective. Michael’s experience was that this was something which most advisers do not understand

Thanks to this insight, the Claret Club was born, providing a facility that encourages like-minded people from the manufacturing sector to come together and debate the most salient issues affecting their industry – over a good lunch and a glass or two of wine of course.

At the February meeting, representatives from many sectors of manufacturing arrived to discuss common issues and challenges. They provided one another with real life examples of how they have overcome the obstacles many others now face – and the feedback has been incredible.

It is truly inspiring to be involved in an initiative that sees those within industry standing up and enabling the success of their sector. By working together we can create even greater opportunities for all.

Get On Board

Top of the meeting’s agenda was an in-depth discussion on the benefits of organic growth versus acquisition. This kind of conversation ensures the SME’s involved understand how to avoid making a poor acquisition in their own business model, and provides them with the best opportunity for a positive outcome within their own business plan.

We also looked at the value of getting employees engaged in the objectives of the business, and why being a good employer does not mean being a ‘soft’ one. People (Human capital if we are being posh) is one of the most important assets within the manufacturing sector, and ensuring your highly skilled employees are committed to your business goals can be the key to future growth. For some, it was simply a matter of understanding the benefits of a top-notch communication strategy. For others, the issues were far more complex. But through the conversations we were able to have, and the ideas that came up, many walked away with inspiring food for thought.

As always, there was plenty of discussion on the differing challenges facing the business managers and non-executive directors running SME’s, with some new members pleasantly surprised by how open our discussions can be. We had a great time comparing the needs of the smaller organisation with the demands of running a division for a large corporate owner, and highlighting the areas where many business owners could avoid fundamental pitfalls.

The impact of the recent decreases in oil price was also on the agenda. The perception that prices should fall significantly because of changes in the cost of oil is not always valid. The members were able to share how they have been able to successfully deal with these challenges.

The Claret Club is going from strength to strength, helping to demonstrate that advisers and manufacturers can work together to support the needs of the SME, whilst having some great fun doing it. If you would like to be invited to one of our meetings or understand more about how you can get involved, please get in touch!