Member Profile: Marcel Landau FIEx (Grad)

Fri 10 Jan 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

marcel landau

In our Spring 2019 edition of World Trade Matters, we spoke to Marcel Landau FIEx (Grad) for our regular ‘Member Focus’. Marcel has been involved with the IOE&IT for several decades and currently sits on the board as the Vice Chair.

Having joined the IOE&IT as a Student Member in 1965, Marcel was elected to Council and then onto the Board in the early 1990’s. He resigned in 2006, but in 2011 rejoined the Council and then in 2014 rejoined the Board.  He was awarded a Fellowship in 2006.

Marcel started his own Packaging Manufacturing business (Marland Ltd) in 1971, which grew into a large international enterprise employing around 100 people in South Lincolnshire.  In the early part of the 2000’s they set up our own Subsidiary Company in Germany with both manufacturing and distribution facilities which looked after their European interests.  The business was sold in 2006, following which Marcel started an Import/Export Agency/Trading business (LSM) in 2009, which still trades very actively.

How long have you been a member and why did you join initially?

I’ve been a member for 53 years - most of the IOE&IT’s existence! I joined when I was 18. I had just started working in the export department of an international company, so I started to take the IOE&IT’s exams as a result and eventually got my MIEx.

What was the IOE&IT like in those days?

Very different to now. It was much better known with a larger profile because in the 1960s people were more gung-ho about exporting. It was something that a lot of people were aware of and there were plenty of opportunities around.

This was before we had joined the EEC around the time that Charles de Gaulle said “non” to our applications to join.

Are we returning to a Britain that is more outward looking?

We’re going to have to. When we do leave the EEC, whatever way we do it, the only way the country will go on is if we go back to exporting to lots of other countries. The big worry is that there’s only 200,000 companies in the UK exporting compared to over 400,000 companies starting up every year, so it’s a tiny percentage of businesses who are exporting.

If we’re going to make up the losses of some of what we currently sell to Europe, we’re going to have to drive up exports elsewhere. It’s vital that the IOE&IT helps people to understand the opportunities that are out there and through training allow companies to know what they’re doing when it comes to export.

How can the IOE&IT increase its profile again?

We need to be able to partner with a lot of different organisations like DIT and HMRC. There has to be partnership with all the government departments so that they know what we’re trying to do for UK businesses. We also need to get more trade associations and corporate members on board, getting the people they employ to do our training and take our qualifications.

How are you involved in the IOE&IT these days?

I’ve been involved at some sort of executive level for 25 years or so. This is my second stint as vice-chairman, having also been in the role during the mid-2000s. Prior to that I was chairman of one of its branches and have been involved in the councils too.

I’ve always been grateful to the IOE&IT. The qualifications I took in the 1960s helped me to get a better job and to go onto achieve what I have. I always believe in putting back into something you’ve benefitted from and I’m always happy to do what I can to help and promote the IOE&IT.

How are you involved in exporting generally at the moment?

I started my own business in 1991 selling packaging products, exporting them throughout that period. I’ve sold to most places in the world, mostly to Europe at the moment. I have a major distributor who works in most major markets in Europe and I have a worldwide distributor based in the UK who sells our products as part of their portfolio around the world.

What three tips would you give to companies who are new to export?

  1. Go through one of our qualifications or training courses – that’s the main benefit of becoming a member.
  2. Use our helpline.
  3. The new magazine gives very helpful advice on individual markets and shows the IOE&IT in a really good light.

On a personal level, what’s the main lesson you’ve learnt from your career in international trade?

As much as possible, visit your customers in person and learn a few words of their language, even if it’s just to say, “sorry I can’t speak your language”.

In my opinion, exporting is largely a question of trust – the only way you’re going to get a deal with someone from a different culture and country, is through trust. They’ll only initially know you from your website, so you need to sell yourself as a person as well as your product.

You should also know about the market you’re selling into – what’s the culture, what’s the history – so that you can at least hold a conversation with them. You need to be able to show the person you’re talking to that you’re interested and that you care.

You should also know about the company you’re dealing with, including why they’re interested in what you do and why they’d benefit from buying from you.