Blum UK

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Blum UK'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 Blum UK 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

www.blum.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | BLUM UK
Mark Richardson, managing
director
Blum UK
Blum, founded in Austria in 1952, is a company that
manufactures functional hardware for furniture. Blum began
distributing in the UK via an agency in the mid Sixties. In 1987
the company set up its own UK subsidiary, which is now headed by
managing director Mark Richardson. Based in Milton Keynes with
state-of-the-art premises including a spectacular high bay warehouse
and 60 staff, the company focuses on delivering the highest quality
products. The aim is to maintain a human connection, both within
the organisation and outwardly to customers and other partners.
This is in tandem with the ultra high-tech systems that are used
by the company. With transactions in over 100 countries and
possession of the bulk of the market share, the company continues
to move from success to success and has a strong presence in
every major furniture retailer. Here is Mark Richardson’s account
of the UK success of this well-known company.
At Blum, our principal goal is to deliver the highest quality moving parts for
furniture. We do not employ aggressive sales tactics, nor do we attempt to sacrifice
quality for the sake of price. To put it simply, quality and longevity are our sovereign
goals. As part of this overall commitment, we offer a unique lifetime guarantee. In
a nutshell, that means that if one of our components fail at any point in the future
we will unconditionally replace it. That is good and reassuring news for everyone
concerned, however rare that failure may be. The general ethos that permeates
throughout the company is that we are a genuine and positive team who want to
bring a caring, down-to-earth human face to our highly technical business.
FACTS ABOUT
BLUM UK
»Managing director: Mark
Richardson
»Established in 1952 in Austria,
and the UK subsidiary was
founded in 1987
»Based in Milton Keynes,
Buckinghamshire
»Services: Manufacture of
functional hardware for
furniture
»No. of employees: 60
»Won the European Inventor of
the Year in 2013
Blum UK
29BLUM UK |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
People first
Every employee, no matter their
position, considers themselves to be a
“guardian of the brand”. This position
is everyone’s focus. We have a strong
and inspiring mutual respect. Hard
sales targets and commission-based
enticements are unnecessary in this
kind of culture. This goes hand in
hand with our efforts to train, develop
and offer opportunities to all my staff
whenever possible. To me, that’s a
priority, and a sincere attempt to make
everyone’s work life as pleasant and
fulfilled as possible. To help facilitate
this, we have an organisational
development team within the
company. After all, the company is
no bigger or better than the people
who are employed there. Without our
amazing teams, there is no company.
As far as our clients are concerned,
we hold on to our general principle of
maintaining an approachable human
face. It’s because of this we consider
ourselves less a business-to-business
company than a person-to-person one.
It’s not about business expansion, it’s
about building relationships.
Ubiquity and presence
Some think that the emphasis on
people and culture can be in conflict
with the commercial goals of a
business. In our case, this couldn’t be
further from the truth. Our presence
is truly global, with trade taking place
in over half of the world’s countries
– a remarkable feat considering that
nearly 30 years ago we only had
an insignificant presence outside of
Austria. Back then, Blum UK consisted
of two people, one desk and a tiny
London office. In contrast we have
60 employees now, and a highly
automated computer-controlled state-
of-the-art warehouse.
While on the topic of presence, it’s
worth highlighting that our parts can
be found throughout the world –
from the average British household,
all the way to Air Force One; from
small independent retailers to national
and international chain stores. This is
because, in our opinion (and that of
our customers) we are the best in the
market in terms of hinges, drawers and
lift systems. As previouslymentioned,
Today area, Blum
Experience Centre
To put it
simply, quality
and longevity
are our
sovereign
goals
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | BLUM UK
our unique offering is focused around
our lifetime guarantee. On top
ofthis, we have the software to assist
our clients’ production, design and
even logistical needs. This is much
appreciated by our larger customers
– for whom the efficient and effective
control of stock management is
absolutely crucial.
Successfully navigating the
storm
However, not all is smooth sailing.
Brexit brings with it a degree of
unwelcome turbulence through which
we will have to navigate. Our parent
company is in Austria, and the ease
with which we can trade pre-Brexit
may come to an end if the final Brexit
deal is not satisfactory. Our cost prices
are in euros and any FX uncertainty is
always unwelcome.
Another persistent issue for us is
steering through the realms of
international patent and intellectual
property laws. Because we are
market leaders, many competitors are
engaged in copying our protected
designs. In fact, in our specific sector,
we have become the primary victim
of patent infringement. The problem
has reached such a level that we now
have a team whose sole function is to
monitor and deal with these issues.
Politically speaking, and aside from
the uncertainty of Brexit, we approve
of the government’s attempts to raise
the profile of, and improve funding
for, apprenticeship schemes in the
form of a levy. Schemes which can
encourage and develop skills in the
furniture industry are crucial to ensure
long-term sustainability, growth
andsuccess.
While Blum UK is still working on
the logistics of the government’s
apprenticeship programme, I am
pleased to see that the government is
listening to the industry and starting
to bring about the necessary changes.
Ideally every business in the supply
chain – whether manufacturer, retailer
or supplier – should be easily able
to benefit from the scheme. In the
meantime, Blum UK has set up its
own “Business Trainee” programme
to ensure a steady flow of young and
enthusiastic people into the company.
Looking positively to the future, we
believe that unpredictable fluctuations
in the market will be adequately
counteracted by our investments
in people and infrastructure. By
maintaining our business model with
its person-to-person approach, we
believe we will continue to build and
expand upon the successes so far.
Every
employee, no
matter their
position,
considers
themselves to
be a
“guardian of
the brand”
Technical training room,
Blum Experience Centre
High bay warehouse,
Blum UK

www.blum.com

This article was sponsored by Blum UK. 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

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.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy