The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Aquavision is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
54 | AQUAVISION
Alastair Benn, managing director
Quality, handmade British
Led by Alastair and Susan Benn, Aquavision is a company
that designs and manufactures bespoke, waterproof, mirror
and in-wall television systems – with an extensive portfolio
of high-end clients in a wide range of sectors, including the
residential, commercial and hospitality industries; in recent times
Aquavision have also won contracts within the marine sector,
with their products being installed on luxury yachts around
the world. The factors driving this successful expansion are
described by Alastair and Susan in the following piece.
Beginning in 1997, I (Alastair) pioneered the concept of the waterproof in-wall
television, producing the first one in my home garage. In 2002, I also identified a
gap in the high-end luxury market, namely a lack of televisions that were suitable
for unconventional parts of a residence and the considerable challenges in placing
a television in a bathroom. Seeing this was the case, I decided to offer aesthetic,
custom-made televisions suitable for bathroom use.
This effort paid off and, soon after, I won the opportunity to gain contracts around
the world with major hotels and high-profile individuals. With that, the Aquavision
brand was born.
Since then the company has moved beyond just bathroom televisions, to producing
television systems for kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and outdoor spaces.
Aquavision also collaborate with the high-end Nordic audio-visual brand Bang &
Olufsen. It is remarkable to reflect that all of this came from a company that began
in the family home with our young children playing a helping role.
Alastair and Susan Benn
»Established in 2002
»Based in Stockport, Greater
»Services: Design and
manufacture of waterproof
and in-wall televisions, both
residential and commercial
»No. of employees: 13
»Alastair invented the first
waterproof TV in 1997
»Innovative and pioneering,
always ahead of the curve
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Trust at our core
The core value that underpins our
success, we believe, has always
been trust: we must ensure that
our employees and clients trust in a
company that will always have their
best interests in mind. For example,
in dealing with high-profile individuals
such as celebrities and royalty around
the world, an agreement must be
established between us and them
that we will not divulge personal
information about them.
We make it clear that we are genuinely
committed to providing them with this
confidence, and this is what makes
the transaction possible. More to the
point, if we were not trustworthy, our
reputation would diminish rapidly in
such a small industry. Indeed, so niche
and specialised is this industry that
one of our clients bought a mountain
for the sole purpose of using its
marble for his bathrooms to ensure
that it matched; this highlights just
how important it is to attend to these
projects and our clients very closely
and carefully. These are, after all,
projects close to theirheart.
Our staff must also trust that we
will provide them with the support
necessary for them to work well and
happily; indeed, it is not too great an
exaggeration to say that our staff are
like family to us. It is not unusual for
us to go out for dinner together, for
example. From this comes the loyalty
which affords us the stability required
for such a specialised trade.
This core value permeates throughout
our business. Client acquisition and
retention are not simply down to
providing a quality product, but trust
too. For instance, one way that we
keep clients on board is by offering
a “hole-in-the-wall guarantee”,
which provides assurance that
whenever new television models
come about, we can install the new
television into the wall where the
previous unit was fitted before,
without any remedial works being
necessary. Trust also has its basis
in the fact that our manufacturing
takes place in the UK, a country in
which regulatory standards are high.
Aquavision products carry the “Made
in Britain” marque, which lends us a
considerable degree of legitimacy in
the global market.
Moving forward and adapting
Among some of the challenges
we face is the rapid pace of the
technological industry. Hardly six
months goes by without some
great change in the technological
landscape. Naturally, being involved
in this sector requires a close eye
on these changes, something that
Alastair – with his knowledge,
research and innovative impulse –
can keep on top of, and relishes in
A challenge that is currently
occupying our attention is further
expansion on an international scale.
Fortunately, we are firmly established
Attention to detail has been
a key to the success story
are not simply
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
56 | AQUAVISION
in the UK market, but work further
afield is still in its infancy – principally,
that of appointing new distributors
around the world. The objective
is to increase exports and attain a
growth rate of over 20 per cent per
annum within an 18-month to five-
year window – something we are
Closer to home is the issue of
employment and how best to
acquire the calibre of talent for this
specialised industry. Fortunately, the
current government has been doing
a lot to help in this area, particularly
with respect to apprenticeship
schemes. In recent times we have
seen a broadening and increased
support of apprenticeships and similar
For example, one of our employees
is now doing an apprenticeship in
accountancy (90 per cent of which
is funded by the government) and
another is taking a master’s level
qualification in manufacturing and
production. This is helping to provide
our business with the skills we need to
compete in a global market.
In terms of the global market, there
have been concerns over the exchange
rate after Brexit. However, for every
up there has been a corresponding
down, and the net effect as far as we
are concerned at present is neutral.
In other words, Brexit has not been
deleterious for ourcompany.
Our hope is that these encouraging
trends continue, allowing us to meet
our growth targets and reach those
markets that we have not yet tapped
into. With trust as our ethos, growth
as our aim and innovation as our
modus operandi, we believe we can
take Aquavision further along this
already successful journey.
We are firmly
afield is still in
are often installed
in luxury residential
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.