Helping Hand Environmental plans to survive Brexit deal or no deal

Lara Bryant, VP sales and marketing at Herefordshire-based litter clearance tools manufacturer Helping Hand Environmental, outlines how she plans to continue the company’s global expansion, despite Brexit 

Brexit has caused a lot of concern among British exporters whose key overseas trade is within the EU. With the outcome of negotiations, or lack of, still unknown, it is tricky for businesses to plan for the future to ensure a smooth transition.

However, as a British manufacturer and exporter, we have successfully grown our export business to Europe since the EU referendum in 2016. Despite the dual challenge of impending Brexit and competition from cheaper overseas manufacturers, our export revenue has increased by 750% in the last six years. We doubled our overseas sales from £450,000 to £986,000 between 2016 and 2017 alone and are now exporting to more than 20 countries worldwide, proving that with the right approach Brexit should not spell disaster.

This overseas revenue growth has resulted in our family-run company winning a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade this year, an accolade we’re incredibly proud of.

So, here are our tips on how businesses can grow a global client base, despite the tricky economic conditions and uncertain future – based on our own experience:

1) Talk to your customers

Talk of a no-deal Brexit, hard borders and new tariffs have all triggered understandable concern that UK companies will lose many European customers, with some claiming they are already suffering negative impacts. However, there are ways to overcome these issues.

The key thing is to put the customers’ needs at the centre of everything you do. We have worked really closely with all our European customers to ensure we are in a strong position to allay any problems thrown up by Brexit, such as transportation delays or materials shortages. We have robust contingency plans in place to deal with potential hiccups. For instance, we have built up good stocks of our raw materials, so that we can continue to manufacture in the event of a slow-down in supply for at least 90 days.

Even now, no-one knows what is going to happen, but we were proactive in going to our European customers to discuss their concerns and needs to try to pre-empt any issues. For instance, if we have concerns about supply lines shutting down, we can ship products early or even send out the components and put the products together onsite.

Comprehensive preparation has reassured our customers that we remain the supplier best placed to provide them with quality products when they need them, deal or no deal.

2) Don’t compromise on quality

It may be tempting when faced with much cheaper overseas rivals to cut costs wherever possible and compromise the quality of your products. We would warn against this. Customers will pay for quality. The reason the ‘Made in Britain’ tagline is a powerful one is that it is associated with top-quality products.

We have more than 50 years of technical expertise in producing litter clearance tools for local authorities, waste management companies and major brands keen to add litter clearance to their CSR [corporate social responsibility] activities. This has enabled us to refine and innovate to ensure our products are the best available in terms of design, function and durability. We cycle test our litter pickers to 500,000 repetitions.

All this requires investment, but the result is incomparable quality and ergonomics proven from one generation to the next. Our customers trust we will provide them with quality products to CE and ISO standards.

Due to higher overheads, material and staffing costs than south-east Asian rivals, there is no doubt there are far cheaper alternatives out there. Yet our customers across dozens of countries remain loyal because they are happy to pay for better quality. With a much longer lifespan than cheaper versions, our products ultimately offer better value. There is a lesson for everyone there.

3) Keep it green

As our company name, Helping Hand Environmental, suggests, we really care about the environment. As well as our mission to make the whole world litter free and divert as much rubbish as possible from landfill to recycling, we also constantly look for new ways to minimise our environmental impact. From manufacturing as much as possible using recyclable materials to recycled compostable packaging, we aim for zero waste. We also produce recycling kits alongside our products, which can extend their lifespans by 300%.

Our customers care about the carbon footprint of the products. They are working with us to boost their environmental credentials, so it would significantly undermine this if they were to source their tools from a company with a terrible environmental record.

Thankfully, there is also a wider trend towards consumers and companies holding their suppliers to account when it comes to responsible manufacturing and production. Across Europe, more consumers now demand strong environmental credentials when they buy, governments are legislating to reduce emissions and waste and this has a knock-on effect across all markets. Going greener pays in more ways than one.

4) Add value

We refer to ourselves as an anti-litter consultancy and there is a good reason for this. Having supplied the litter collection industry and worked with countless councils, charity projects and national and international campaigns we have a breadth of experience and network of contacts in this area that is unrivalled.

As well as supplying more than 90% of all local authorities in the UK, we are the official partners for environmental charities and campaigns in the UK and Europe from Keep Britain Tidy and Keep Scotland Beautiful to Nederland Schoon in Holland and Limburg.net in Belgium.

We worked with 346,012 litter pick volunteers in the first three months of this year alone, providing them not just with litter-pick tools, but also educational and promotional materials.

This has led to major global brands including McDonalds, Coca Cola and Costa approaching us in relation to their CSR and charity work. Due to our knowledge, experience and network of partners, we can act as a valued advisor on new environmental litter clearance projects and help link up community groups with local authorities, charities and businesses looking to fund such projects.

We are not solely focused on commercial gain, but we have a long-term view on developing sustainable relationships. Our business has grown in tricky conditions because we exceed our customers’ expectations – both at home and abroad – and other UK businesses must do the same.

Important Information About Our Annual Stock Take

Helping Hand Environmental Annual Stock Take will take place from Wednesday 26th June 2019 until Monday 1st July 2019.

Unfortunately, no orders can be invoiced or dispatched during this time.

Last day to order Tuesday 25th June before 12pm for standard stock items.

Place your orders now to avoid delays:

Telephone: 01531 635678
Email sales@helpinghand.co.uk

Or visit our WEBSHOP

Colwall Primary School given a Helping Hand to Recycle

SCHOOLCHILDREN across Herefordshire are leading the charge in fighting waste with a new recycling project.

Colwall Primary School is the latest recruit to sign upto the Herefordshire Community Recycling project which has seen schools across Herefordshire recycled over 56,000 crisp packets.

The brainchild of Herefordshire Community Clean Up group founder, Andrew Wood, the seeds for the project were sown last year, when Mr Wood began to investigate the options for recycling rubbish collected on community litter picks.

A subsidiary group – Herefordshire Community Recycling Raising Money for Local Charities – was set up and, before long, their mission expanded to include educating children on recycling and the value of waste.

Each school taking part across Herefordshire is sponsored by a local business including Helping Hand Environmental – the world’s largest manufacturer of litterpickers who have sponsored the latest round of bins to be installed at Colwall Primary School.

Mr Wood said “The fee the business paid is for four coloured recycling bins for the schools, who’s each schools Eco Committee, choose which items they wish to recycle. The scheme is driven by the children with the help of teachers and parents. And the sponsor and the school will build a relationship”.

Interest in the project has been so great that there is now 27 schools across Herefordshire currently signed up to the project and a new recycling schemes developed with NHS.

Lindsay Richmond-Kearns, Communities Manager for Helping Hand Environmental said “We are delighted to be supporting this innovative project and sponsoring Colwall Primary School with their first set of recycling bins. We hope to engage with our younger generation and help to minimize waste and increase recycling within Herefordshire”.

Nationally, PepsiCo have now collected 4m crisp packets nationwide, across 12.5k collection points in the UK.

For more information, visit the Herefordshire Community Recycling Raising Money for Local Charities Facebook page here.

 

And The Winner Is…

Thank you for all the nominations for our #Volunteer toolkit competition.
From setting up a Litter Hit squad; community groups that are out Litterpicking every weekend; a family out litterpicking every day – you are our #LitterHeroes – thank you.
Every nomination has been put into the hat and the following 2 lucky winners of a #Volunteer Toolkit are:
– Leicester Litter Wombles
– gLitter Team – Let’s Clean Grangemouth
Our #Volunteer competition kit is on its way too you – many congratulations!
Can we personally congratulate all the nominees for all the outstanding work you do – you are all winners making a difference.
Don’t forget to tag & share your stories – and watch this space for new campaigns coming up in 2019.

FREE toolkit for your local #VolunteerHero

📢 Competition Time 📢

This week, to celebrate Volunteers’ Week, Helping Hand Environmental are giving away TWO volunteer tool kits!

To nominate your local litter hero, community group or eco-school click https://hhenvironmental.co.uk/contact-us enter the details of who you are nominating in the comments box and why and that’s it!

#InItToWinIt

Closing date June 10th.

Please note, the content of the Volunteer Tool Kit is highlighted in the image.

Two winners will be selected at random and announced on June 12th.

Who is your #VolunteerHero….