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The September Claret Club offers some positive steps forward for SMEs

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It was great to see representation from such a large cross section of the manufacturing industry come together at the Claret Club this month, working to promote value within the sector. We discussed some of the most salient issues facing our businesses today, as you’ll see.

There are two more Claret Club events planned for this year; do get in touch if you’d like to secure your invitation for October or November.

What is the Claret Club?

Founded in 2012, the Claret Club provides an opportunity for owners and managers of leading manufacturing companies within the region to share their ideas, and discuss issues in a more informal and relaxed atmosphere.

With good food, good wine and, of course, good company, the club provides vital support for today’s business owners, helping them overcome the barriers they face and enjoy the benefits of looking at their business from a whole new perspective.

September’s Claret club meeting

We started the September meeting with 30 second briefings from each member on why customers buy their product. Whether it’s price competitiveness, uniqueness of product, customer service or any another USP, this exercise provides a unique opportunity to focus on the key drivers that make your business a success.

After looking at each company’s USP we looked at whether ‘Made in Britain’ is a USP within the world market. Britain’s reputation for quality and outstanding engineering is still of value to UK manufacturers, and as a result, it is always beneficial to look at the ways your business can capitalise on this success, and add greater value to your own offering.

Not surprisingly, the impact of the Brexit vote was also a point of discussion, both in terms of the changes experienced so far, and what is still to come. There are both positive and negative ways to approach the change that is happening – but for those that are looking, the opportunities are there.

Some business owners are experiencing short term sales growth, as customers increase their level of buying power at current rates in anticipation of future price rises, particularly within logistics and construction.

There are opportunities with the Apprenticeship scheme to offer reduced human capital costs, as well as alternative initiatives that can also bring in some much needed fresh blood.

The opportunity to negotiate new trade deals, both on a company level and national level, has never been more apparent, and it’s clear that now isn’t the time to look back and try to refute the decision made. Now is the time to plan ahead, and make the most of the situation we have.

Looking to the future, succession planning was also a hot topic this month. Now that the average shareholder director in manufacturing businesses in Yorkshire is 61 years of age, the issue of an ageing workforce and the shortage of skilled labour coming through is key to any SMEs long term success. For BHP’s consulting team, succession planning is an area of special interest; we work with many SME owners and their successors, and are experienced in identifying and retaining key management. There are ways to make manufacturing a more desirable career path for the young, as well as key strategic plans that can reduce the impact of owner reliance on a company’s future value.

Ideas were flying, the claret was flowing, and positive plans started to take shape. The BHP Claret Club is definitely time well spent. We hope to see you there next month.


“I am quite new to the Claret Club and have found the events informative, lively and thought provoking. David Mitchell is an excellent chair who keeps everyone in order and the conversation moving. He is also incredibly well informed on business, economics, politics and whatever else we are discussing. I leave feeling I have learnt a lot and I have made some great new connections.” – Julie Bickerdyke, Austin Hayes Group