Latchways: Safety equipment supplier secures new business

Latchways is an established business whose history stretches back over 40 years. It supplies fall protection equipment to keep workers safe when working at height. In each of its territories, the company works with Registered Installers who act as local partners.

With around 70% of its turnover from exports, Latchways had already been on UKTI Trade Missions to the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, and has a presence in Poland. “We have worked with a Registered Installer there since 2009,” says Nigel Evens, Head of Sales for Europe.  

With the Polish market developing fast and competitors emerging, Latchways saw the Santander Trade Mission as a good opportunity to support its Installer and also get warm introductions to potential new customers – a group that included big developers, construction companies and utilities companies – this would be an opportunity to strike deals. 

Targeting potential customers

Preparation was vital. Nigel praised Santander for bringing in the British Polish Chamber of Commerce (BPCC) to support the mission. With BPCC’s help, they drew up a list of potential customers. 

“Meetings were all conducted with our local partner. This removed the need for a translator and established our Installer’s credibility by demonstrating a close link with the UK manufacturer. Santander also accompanied us to some of the meetings and their Trade Mission team were on hand at the hotel to provide support and help with logistics.”   

Santander also organised networking opportunities, which led to more meetings. “I met four people at the networking event who I really wanted to talk to,” says Nigel. “From those initial encounters we were able to set up formal meetings.”

“Overall, it was very useful and the trip resulted in several return meetings. In addition, our local partner feels very supported.” 

Nigel’s Trade Mission Top Tips

  •   Be open minded 

At first, I thought there were too many meetings and I wasn't sure how useful the open networking events would be. But at one of the events I met four people I had really wanted to speak to. As a result of an informal meeting there, I was able to set up formal one-to-one meetings. 

  •     Be organised 

It’s no good arriving in Poland with no real idea of what you want to get out of the Trade Mission. You have to set goals and have a clear idea of who you want to meet. In our case, I wanted to meet potential customers – developers, construction companies and utilities. The goal was to support our local partner by establishing the contacts that would make it easier for him – and us – to win business.   

  •    Be specific 

Work out who you want to see. Make a long list, then a short list, and then a final list. Spend some time on this. We put together our own list of contacts and then asked our local partner for additional names.   

  •  If you have a local partner, take them to the meeting 

Having a local partner present demonstrates to potential customers that you have a true presence in the country. Equally, we feel that taking our partner along strengthened his credibility too. Customers could see he had the backing of the manufacturer.

To be eligible for a subsidised Trade Mission we’re looking for highly ambitious businesses who’ve been trading for a minimum of two years and have plans to increase their customer base, employ more people or expand to new markets in the next 12 months.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK