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Business as Usual?

With so much uncertainty around the business sector, it’s time to focus on doing what promotions do best – building business – says Phil Morgan.

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been quite a mixed year for our industry. After a really strong start to the year, things started to slow as the Brexit campaigners began their arguments.

With the various scaremongering arguments, business owners were left facing a lot of uncertainty and tended to put a halt to their non-essential spend such as merchandise.

Then we voted, and decided and waited to see what would happen next. And waited… and waited… And after a while, the UK seemed to decide that we might just as well get back to business as usual. No major changes would happen anytime soon, so organisations opened up their marketing budgets once more.

The one certain thing throughout 2016, and looking ahead to 2017, is the high level of uncertainty. There are still so many unknowns about the Brexit process.

Suppliers across the country have already faced higher prices on the products they import, and while many have tried to absorb this increase, it will need to be passed on in 2017. For the end-user, this means less product for their marketing budget, so now is the time to prepare. It’s time to be working with your customers to build strong, loyal relationships and to educate them on the merits of promotional gifts.

As one of many British manufacturers supplying to Europe, we have a massive opportunity here. In our experience, European businesses are benefiting from the strength of the euro against the pound and, certainly at SPS, we’re seeing an increase in business from across Europe.

Until our government determines tariffs and trading policies, I expect to see this trend continue in 2017. It’s a great time to demonstrate the benefits of British-made products, in addition to purely cost benefits. As and when we see more currency fluctuations in 2017, we want to ensure that our European customers are developing a loyalty to British products, rather than moving their business elsewhere.

And for UK distributors, this is a great opportunity to focus on the huge range of British made products. While you’ll see a price increase in this area, it will be minimal, since suppliers aren’t importing a complete product. The raw material costs make up a small part of the product cost, meaning you’re going to be able to help your customers’ budgets stretch further.

At SPS we’re delighted to be a part of Briman, a group designed to celebrate all things British-made. There’s a huge angle for distributors to take in promoting British-made products, since the range includes many different products, modern styles and varied branding methods.

My conclusion on 2016, and my advice for 2017, is that although there is much uncertainty in this country, let’s focus on the things we do know. Let’s build our customer relationships, let’s add value to the sales process wherever we can, and let’s endeavour to make 2017 ‘business as usual’ as much as we can.

Phil Morgan is managing director of SPS

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