01 December 2017

Raising the standard: how one company is building a global reputation

Tom Davies Bespoke Opticians is led by a man who epitomises the creativity seen in many British products. He also knows how to make the most of the strong reputation that Brand Britain enjoys in some global markets.

Since 2002, Tom Davies Eyewear has been delivering a bespoke service that calls upon the ingenuity of its eponymous leader, Tom Davies. Today, the firm's increasingly global customer-base look to the company for a unique experience in the fitting and manufacture of eyewear and, says Davies, the Brand Britain factor has a role to play in making waves overseas.

Expanding reach

As Tom Davies heads towards its 15th birthday, its founder reflects on the growth spurts the company has enjoyed, peaking with 2007's opening of a factory in Shenzhen, China. An extended period of expansion followed this, right through to 2014, helping to propel the brand into many more markets.

Most significant was North America but Tom Davies also picked up sales across Australia and New Zealand, northern Europe, Africa and, of course, the wildly expanding Asian markets of Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

There is more to come. Tom Davies has just doubled its US sales team and is looking to drive a £7m export business into Asia over the next five years. Northern Europe is still very much on the radar and domestic activity is picking up a sharp tail wind with its fifth store opening in September in Covent Garden.

Bringing it home

To keep up, the expansion of Shenzhen might seem logical. Instead, the company has brought production back to the UK. “We are going to be focusing on our overseas growth from here,” says Davies.

To the casual observer this might seem an unusual strategy, but Davies is conscious of both the marketing cache of 'Made in Britain', and the economic realities of Chinese production.

“China is not a particularly cheap place to do business anymore,” he comments. Rising costs have eroded the advantage. Without the economic gain, and all the associated risks of overseas manufacture, the return to the UK made sense.

“I'm also starting the reshoring process because I want to invest in British manufacturing,” explains Davies. He is excited about training the next generation of craftsmen and women. With the advent of new technologies, government financial support for apprenticeships, and many young people seeking an alternative to academic study, the stars have aligned for Tom Davies.

A considered message

With many of the firm's global account base appreciative of British innovation, Davies is proud to play the `Made in Britain' card too. He fully understands that as a means of signifying a long history of creative brilliance, it is a message that stands the test of time.

British heritage sits well with Tom Davies' US and Asian markets in particular, but Davies is sensitive to the fact that the value of Brand Britain varies from market to market and is careful to respond accordingly.

Complexities aside, Davies is proud of this country's capacity for world-beating products. “The values of my brand - the innovation, the craftsmanship and the luxury - are routed in our nation's heritage.”

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