Newport based office furniture manufacturer Bisley has been exporting across the globe since 1978 and today international sales account for around 55% of total turnover. The company sells to businesses in 28 countries and such has been the success of their international strategy that they now have their own sales and operations centres in seven of them, namely the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, UAE and America.
Exports has always been a crucial element of the Bisley business model. The company exports because it understands that by exporting to new international markets they are able to increase business resilience, spread risk and work to provide long-term sustainable employment for their loyal employee basis at their HQ in south Wales.
It is an approach that has reaped rewards over the years and allowed them to weather many economic storms, including the recessions of the early 1980s and 90s, the financial crash of 2008-9 and of course the latest Covid-led crisis we are all currently living through.
Bisley has been in the enviable position of exporting British made furniture since the early ‘80s, when the company’s CEO, Mr Tony Brown (son of founder Freddie Brown) exhibited in shows such as the Hamburg Furniture Fair back in 1978, which started Bisley’s journey into exporting. They began selling into various European countries and then into the USA. Their export strategy developed throughout the ‘80s, winning Bisley The Queen’s Award for Export and an OBE for Mr Brown.
More recently, last year Bisley completed 1,200 deliveries of furniture worth £33m into Europe alone.
And Bisley’s subsidiary in North America has continued to grow despite the pandemic and are projected to reach $10m turnover, having secured a $5m deal with one of the world’s largest banking organisations for two locations in Texas. The order included 8,000 lockers and 350 of Bisley’s new VetroSpace health meeting pods.
In the Middle East Bisley recently won a material order for Kuwait University, which was the largest construction site in the Middle East. Bisley have supplied furniture to most of the college buildings on the campus, which is one of the largest educational campuses in the world.
And all of this success follows on from projects with the new Al Ain Hospital in Abu Dhabi, that required a high volume of lockers for staff; a large refurbishment and re-design of media giant TimeInc’s New York offices; and a kit-out of Spanish media brand Telemundo’s vast new HQ in Miami.
“For most of our long history as a company we have traded in international markets”, says Bisley CEO Richard Costin, “We are a proud British company but there is not enough potential in the British market alone to sustain us, and so we export to all four corners of the globe. I don’t think there are many countries where you won’t find Bisley products!
“Even during 2020 our international order books remained healthy. Naturally orders are down on 2019 but we have been heartened that the global marketplace for our products remains buoyant, especially at a time when domestic UK corporate orders wobbled significantly.
“It demonstrates that having an export strategy that spreads risks over a number of international markets really works”.
Looking ahead Bisley has its sights set on exploring a number of new markets, like Singapore, where some strong leads are being developed, or entrenching themselves more deeply in territories in which market penetration could be deeper, like the Netherlands where the brand has invested in a new showroom in Tilburg which opened in November 2020.
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