Ascott Analytical

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Ascott Analytical's best practice article

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 Ascott Analytical is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Chairman Chris Gates and
managing director Adrian Wain
Atmosfär corrosion
test chamber
Ascott Analytical is one of the world’s top five
manufacturers of corrosion test equipment for the
automotive, aerospace and coatings industries. Exports
to more than 50 countries account for 95 per cent of turnover,
with China, India and the US being the biggest markets and
the automotive sector generating the largest share of revenue.
The company employs 30 people and is based in Tamworth
in Staffordshire. Chris Gates, its chairman, who founded the
company in 1989, spells out his recipe for success – summed up
as “innovate and export”.
My mantra for business is encapsulated in the expression “keep moving the goal
posts”. Success in any endeavour can breed complacency. Complacency is the
enemy of success. Rest on your reputation for just a moment and you will be
going backwards, so keep moving. Be restless. Exploit the British tendency to be
inventive. Design and develop – constantly. As a moving target you will leave your
competitors struggling to keep up.
Protect your innovations where you can – for example, with trademarks or patents.
But if your products do get copied, as ours have been (incredibly irritating and
certainly not flattering) then channel this anger into ensuring a constant stream of
product innovations. Deliver these to market quickly to differentiate your product
and keep one step ahead of the competition. This will ultimately leave the copies
looking like empty shadows of the real deal.
»Chairman: Chris Gates
»Managing director Adrian
»Established in 1989
»Based in Tamworth,
»Services: Manufacture of
corrosion test equipment
»No. of employees: 30
Ascott Analytical
Equipment Ltd
Highlighting best practice
British manufacturing in 2018 is much
less about large smokestack industries
and more about less visible, highly
specialised manufacturers like us who
are good at exploiting manufacturing
niches. A smaller business has one key
advantage over a bigger one – agility.
Specifically, it has the ability to react
to a changing market quickly and
adapt accordingly. Agility coupled with
innovation is a potent combination:
two prongs of an attack that will help
ensure a business prevails over its
In our field of corrosion test
equipment, in what is globally a highly
specialised niche market, there was
never any question as to whether
exporting was a good idea for us. It
was vital. No single market could give
us enough critical mass to support
the investment required. Our export
performance was a significant factor
in our winning The Manufacturers’
Organisation (EEF) 2017 National
Exporter of the Year Award, in
addition to two regional export awards
also in 2017. Too often exporting is
seen as the icing on the cake by British
business: I argue it should be the cake
itself. The reasons should be obvious:
1. Exporting is a fantastic way to
spread any risk of market/economic
downturns. Our exports to China
immunised us against the general
economic downturn during and
after the 2009 financial crisis.
2. Improved cash flow. Many are
wary of payment delays or worse
when dealing overseas, but in my
experience this is not borne out by
reality. Overseas payments can be
very prompt, providing the right
terms are agreed. There are a broad
range of bank instruments that
can also be used to secure prompt
3. Extending product life. Almost all
products have a life cycle, but this is
rarely the same in all markets at the
same time.
4. It’s great for Britain’s balance of
My biggest tip for successful exporting
is simple: try to put yourself in the
customer’s shoes and think about all
the extra reasons (compared with a UK
customer) that they might choose not
to buy from you. Address these issues,
whatever they may be:
»Currency/price stability
»Technical variation
If you do this well, then they will buy
from you.
As a business we’ve been prepared to
go the extra mile to develop globally.
During the past 30 years we’ve created
and now maintain catalogues in 20
languages. When we realised that
the US preferred a slightly different
size of catalogue, we created one
Ascott S1000iS salt spray
Too often
exporting is
seen as the
icing on the
cake by British
Iargue it
should be the
cake itself
to match their dimensions. We now
have over 20 individual language-
specific websites hosted in the local
market to maximise Search Engine
Every year, we exhibit at major trade
shows on different continents. In the
past two years we’ve directly invested
in shows in the US, China, India, South
Korea and Germany, and support our
distributors with their own exhibitions
in dozens of countries annually.
Many of our distributors have been
with us from the beginning – they
are entrepreneurs who have built
their business around our corrosion
chambers and they are an integral part
of the Ascott family.
Our future
During the past decade our output
has tripled and global recognition has
brought us international partners: for
example AkzoNobel now operates
30 Ascott chambers in 12 countries,
from Brazil to Singapore. Among our
customers we can count internationally
recognised businesses such as
Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz, Tesla,
Airbus, Pratt & Whiney, Ford, Boeing,
Safran, Panasonic, Jaguar Land Rover
and Samsung. More than 50 per cent
of total revenue comes from Asia.
The high growth we’ve achieved over
the past couple of years has led to
investment in people. A new facility
that opened earlier this year has
doubled capacity, and has provided
greater focus on product development
to ensure our business – which is now
a rather large fish in a small pond –
has the ability to adapt and continue
its rate of expansion over the coming
With new products in the pipeline and
a stronger management team, we’re
looking forward to the future and have
put challenging objectives in place.
We have a global brand to build on,
new geographic markets still to exploit
– including Latin America – and new
products to strengthen our offering to
our distribution network.
At Ascott, we believe our business
embodies the spirit of British
manufacturing in the modern age.
Innovative in everything we do, we are
determined to show the rest of the
world how it should be done.
At Ascott we
believe our
embodies the
spirit of British
in the modern
Ascott exhibits at the
European Coatings
Show in Germany

This article was sponsored by Ascott Analytical. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister