Amber Rudd visits Hastings firm with ‘huge’ Chinese export deal

Amber Rudd MP thanked Focus SB for an 'interesting tour'
Amber Rudd MP thanked Focus SB for an 'interesting tour'

Hastings MP Amber Rudd was welcomed to electrical wiring accessories manufacturer Focus SB to discover how the Hastings-based company had risen to the challenge of a forthcoming Brexit.

She met with Gary Stevens, the managing director of Focus SB, to hear about the company’s success in achieving accreditation as the first, and only, manufacturer in its industry to be licensed to export products to China.

Focus SB employees in summer of 2016. Chris Turner (General Manager - Production), Steve Moss (Sales and Marketing Manager), Gary Stevens (Managing Director), Duncan Ray (Supply Chain and NPI Manager) & Andrew Lanworn (Finance Manager and Company Secretary)

Focus SB employees in summer of 2016. Chris Turner (General Manager - Production), Steve Moss (Sales and Marketing Manager), Gary Stevens (Managing Director), Duncan Ray (Supply Chain and NPI Manager) & Andrew Lanworn (Finance Manager and Company Secretary)

On Friday (March 16), Ms Rudd accepted an invitation to attend a private factory tour at the company’s base at the Castleham Industrial Estate, in Hastings.

Focus SB’s research and development into a new product range for China is just one in a recent string of ongoing major investments made by the company since Mr Stevens’ appointment in January 2016, which have included the purchase of an advanced 3D printer; robot cell; expansion into additional premises and growing the workforce.

The company’s impressive future plans were of considerable interest to Ms Rudd as Focus SB looks set to provide real prospects to resident job seekers in Hastings, which is one of the more deprived coastal towns in Sussex, despite being one of the richest in culture and diversity.

Mr Stevens said: “When Amber Rudd’s office contacted us to host a meeting, we were honoured and delighted to have appeared on her radar.

“Our efforts over the past two years are front and centre of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and as a relatively small SME we have managed to break into the potentially lucrative Chinese market – something that other SMEs need to emulate to enable UK Plc to prosper post Brexit.

“The visit by Amber today is the icing on the cake and recognition that we are on the right track.”

Mr Stevens had previously met Ms Rudd in Hastings when she delivered an inspirational speech championing the Disability Confident employer scheme, to which Focus SB is now a signed up member.

Once an apprentice himself, Mr Stevens also volunteered to become an Enterprise Adviser in East Sussex to provide mentoring support to educational establishments, aiming to encourage young people to enter employment via apprenticeship schemes.

On Twitter, Ms Rudd thanked Focus SB for an ‘interesting tour’ and said it was ‘good to hear about developing exports to China’.

She added: “It was fantastic to meet with Gary and his team at Focus SB. It was good to hear about their work in China, especially being the only business to have achieved accreditation in their industry.

“I enjoyed having a tour around the factory and it was wonderful to see all the hard work that Focus SB is doing. I am very proud of all of the wonderful businesses we have here in Hastings who are working hard to support our local economy.”

To read more about Focus SB’s ‘huge’ export deal with China, click here.