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Why supporting suppliers’ export strategies will boost trade growth

Ian Bouquet Taylor

By Ian Bouquet-Taylor, group head of supplier excellence, Meggitt PlC

As the UK prepares for a new future with the advent of Brexit, this is perhaps a time to reflect on the challenges that face our manufacturing sectors.

Growth, although improving, is still very low at around 1%. The Government is concerned that productivity growth is well behind other countries – and at levels not seen in over a century. This is slowly widening the gap in global competitiveness between us and other developed nations.  With that in mind, what should we do?

Along with several other sectors (notably Automotive and Rail), we – the Aerospace sector – have released an industrial strategy through the Aerospace Growth Partnership – and, within that, the Supply Chain Charter articulated in the Means of Ascent document. This details that we need to support our suppliers and encourage them to grow in capability and accelerate productivity to increase competitiveness in a global marketplace.

One area of that focus is Export – something that many in the SME community do not do, fearing the issues around controls and legislation or regulation. Our challenge is to educate, mentor and eliminate the fear so that companies can run good export strategies, and we have approached the Institute of Export & International Trade as the experts to build a mentorship plan to do that. Simply put, we want to support SMEs’ growth goals and by doing so, show them how to build strategies, plans and execute a viable and safe process to sell goods outside our shores.

This is partially a self-help programme with mentored learning. Rather than simply relying on Government to drive strategies, we are encouraging our SMEs to extend the entrepreneurship they have displayed in maintaining a viable business.

Doing so will help support their operation in wider markets, helping them learn how to avoid falling foul of regulations or issues and ensuring that the learning methods will embed the processes into their business and skillsets. This is only one part of a multi-faceted development programme that is currently being created by ADS and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) in partnership to support multiple manufacturing sectors with similar needs.

Why are we doing this?  As primes we run global supply chains, but still realise that within the UK we need to retain skills and capabilities to ensure that we can continue to pursue work packages across all aspects of manufacturing in the future.

We are highly aware of the technologies and processes that will need to be developed to maintain the UK’s place as a global leader in automotive, aerospace, rail and other sectors – and this is just a part of the programme to identify, develop and excel in these technologies in the next few years.

The UK currently is and can remain a base of high skill, technology and productivity, enabling global customers to see us as more competitive. We have our Catapult Centres to support this, however, to do so, we primes have an obligation to publicise, support and provide opportunity for our supply chains to develop greater capabilities.

One lesson we have all learned is without a viable supply chain our prime positions are at risk. Recognising this, supporting our community of suppliers and offering them direction to the best advice is simply a plan to enable our own competitive offer as well.

About Meggitt PLC

Headquartered in the UK, Meggitt PLC is a FTSE 250, global engineering group specialising in extreme environment components and smart sub-systems for aerospace, defence and energy markets. Some 11,000 people are employed across manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe and North America and regional bases in Brazil, India and the Middle East. Meggitt’s civil aerospace presence covers large commercial transports, regional aircraft, business jets, helicopters and general aviation.  Its defence markets cover all military aircraft types, land systems, naval platforms and aerial, land-based and marine threat simulation training and weapons systems development. The firearms element of this capability extends into law enforcement and security organisations. The group’s growing presence in energy is driven by our core fluid controls, heat management and sensing and monitoring capabilities, many of which are deployed to help reduce the maintenance costs, fuel consumption and carbon emissions of industrial gas and steam turbines.

About Ian Bouquet-Taylor

Ian Bouquet-Taylor, is Group Head of Supplier Excellence at Meggitt PLC, responsible for reducing supply chain risk, governing supplier quality, supplier development and supplier manufacturing engineering. He has spent eight years in Aerospace & Defence focussing on developing processes and tools for improving supply chains. At a national level, Ian sits on several key programmes aimed at improving supply chain competitiveness, including the SC21 Steering Board, the Aerospace Growth Partnership Supply Chain Working Group, and more recently supporting the development of the cross sector National Manufacturing Competitiveness Level programme targeted to start in 2018.  His previous industrial experience includes Design, Operations, Quality, and Programme Management in Automotive and Industrial companies”

He can be contacted on 02476 668 889 or at ian.taylor@meggitt.com

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