Cambridgeshire company uses UKTI support to shine a light on its strategy for growth
Insight Cordless Lighting, based in St Neots, supplies eco-friendly cordless table lighting solutions to luxury hospitality brands worldwide. Offering a safer and more cost-effective alternative to candlelight, the company’s ambient mood lighting enhances the overall guest experience while also reducing CO2 emissions.
Managing Director Nigel Fawkes had been in the hospitality industry for 20 years before setting up his own business in 2012. “Within a matter of months, strong website orders meant that our innovative and stylish LED table lamps were being shipped to over 30 countries around the world. With excellent feedback from leading hospitality brands and individual consumers alike, I needed to consider how best to scale the business.” An initial phone call from UKTI at that pivotal moment helped to set a clear direction for the company.
UKTI trade adviser James Gillespie offered to sit down and talk through the company’s strategy for growth with Nigel. This helped to clarify the way forward while providing affirmation for Nigel as a small business owner. “James showed a genuine interest in what we were doing,” comments Nigel. “His tremendous understanding, knowledge and experience were invaluable.”
“Nigel and I quickly established that his best customers were likely to be five star resorts that would deliver higher profit margins by purchasing in bulk,” says James. “With a limited market in the UK it was going to be important for Nigel to explore overseas leads. UKTI could help with this by diagnosing useful support and by providing access to grants that would facilitate international visits – important for a small business that has only been trading for a year.”
Nigel decided upon Kenya as his first overseas market, in part because of existing family connections there. Following several strategic discussions with James, he accessed UKTI Market Visit Support (MVS) funding that helped him to visit Kenya in October 2013 and assess the market potential at first-hand.
On arriving in Nairobi Nigel met with UKTI Trade Development Manager Eric Mwema, at the British High Commission. “Eric arranged a meeting for me with the General Manager of the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, who has since placed an initial order for 60 lamps,” says Nigel. “This is a significant result for Insight Cordless Lighting, given the size and reputation of this hotel chain worldwide. I was grateful that Eric took the time to come with me to the meeting, which undoubtedly enhanced my credibility as a new supplier in Kenya.”
Nigel used his own contacts to secure further key meetings with other businesses in Kenya, all of which led to additional orders being placed.
“The MVS funding also enabled us to research safari lodges and camps, which was of tremendous benefit to us,” adds Nigel. “We are now exploring the potential for a new product range that provides ambient lighting in keeping with the traditional values of the lodges. We hope to be able to manufacture recycled glass shades in Kenya as well as to assemble the new lamps there – creating employment opportunities for the local community.”
“Nigel currently has a first-to-market privilege in the emerging Kenyan market,” says James, “so the challenge is to convert this into something that will continue to deliver a return for his company over the longer term. By engaging with local businesses and the local community Nigel can not only minimise export tariffs, but he can also create a stronger partnership that will help him to build a reputation as a valued supplier who demonstrates commitment to the local area.”
With significant initial orders already secured in Kenya and additional orders of strategic importance in the pipeline, Nigel predicts that 70% of his company’s future business will be in export markets that include Kenya, South Africa, Norway and Austria. Nigel plans to use UKTI resources to help his company explore each of these markets further.
“Austria is an excellent gateway into German-speaking countries, as well as being a worthwhile market in its own right because of its all-year-round tourism,” comments James. “UKTI currently supports various retail fairs in Austria, including one at the British Embassy Residence in Vienna that is particularly suitable for smaller companies and would work well for Insight Cordless Lighting.”
“Going forwards, I’d recommend that Nigel signs up for UKTI’s Passport to Export service, which provides new exporters with training, planning and support services that accelerate overseas growth. Commissioning an Overseas Marketing Introduction Service (OMIS) report would also help him to confirm the best entry point into the Scandinavian marketplace.”
Nigel has been delighted by the export potential that UKTI has helped Insight Cordless Lighting to realise over the last few months. “Our trade adviser, James Gillespie, has a tremendous amount of integrity and professionalism,” says Nigel. “I really value his guidance: his support and advice have been First Class.”
If you are based in the East of England region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:
UKTI East of England International trade Team
Tel: + (0)845 641 9955
Find your nearest International Trade Advisor via our postcode search facility in “Contacts in your region”