A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Canvasman'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 Canvasman 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

Chris Salisbury, founder and
managing director
The Canvasman team
Canvasman Ltd designs, manufactures and installs
innovative textile products mainly for the marine,
automotive and leisure sectors. Based in West
Yorkshire, they supply a variety of clients nationally.
Established well-known companies as well as fledgling
start-ups and private individuals come to them for product
development expertise and cutting-edge design. They
understand that the keys to their successful growth and
longevity as a small business have historically been fruitful
partnerships, the ability to be agile and an engaged workforce
of skilled people. Founder and managing director, Chris
Salisbury, elaborates here.
We have a growing number of companies coming to us for product development
and small batch manufacturing needs. As our market is traditionally bespoke, we
can easily adapt and react to market fluctuations and trends. Our account clients
benefit from these skills, as we can implement version changes to their products
quickly and efficiently while maintaining rigorous standards of quality control. This
minimises risk for our clients while also providing far greater control over their
products than if they were to have them made overseas.
With our unique systems and processes, we can produce high-quality customised
products in larger quantities and meet tight deadlines which many customers have
now come to expect.
»Founder and managing
director: Chris Salisbury
»Established in 1996
»Based in Bradford, West
»Services: Manufacture and
installation of innovative
textile products
»No. of employees: 24
»Grown by 25 per cent each
year for the past three years
»Started operating from the
cellar of a terraced house in
Highlighting best practice
Make your clients partners
With customer service at the heart
of what we do, there is a strong and
positive mentality towards partnership
and collaboration that spans across
the company. This attitude has helped
us break through the barriers that
can impede the growth of many small
businesses. Even though our private
clients continue to comprise the lion’s
share of our business and are often the
pipeline for new business-to-business
(B2B) clients, however, we do expect
that future growth will come through
autonomous expansion of our existing
B2B client base.
We know that many of our account
clients will face some major obstacles
through production, and that we will
need to be supportive and responsive
to their needs. We appreciate that
behind every company that comes to
us, there are people simply trying to
do their best. Start-ups and young
businesses all have individual, unique
challenges. By investing time in
building partnerships with our clients,
listening to them and sharing our
experiences and expertise, we can get
to know the issues they are facing. This
is integral to the continued success of
our business.
By nurturing bountiful partnerships,
building trust and opening a
professional dialogue, we can best
serve our clients and help them to
be successful. We can support these
companies by developing their range
of products, improving their lead
times, refining stock management or
by easing their employment issues. If
they grow, we will grow.
Investment in growth
One of the biggest obstacles we
have recently faced was finding
suitable premises to operate from. We
started the company from the cellar
of a Victorian terraced house, only
able to accommodate one sewing
machine. When the time came to
employ someone, that meant finding
After a three-year search for suitable
premises, we were fortunate enough
to secure funding from the Leeds
Partnership Fund and the Textile
Growth Programme; this meant that
we could secure the additional finance
necessary from the bank to purchase
the building. Having moved to larger
premises three times over now, we
are able to take on more work and
expand our workforce.
An outdoor
entertainment space
that can be removed
without a trace
A typical bespoke boat
cover, measured and
installed on site in the
With our
systems and
processes, we
can produce
By investing in systems and procedures
normally found in much larger
companies, and rarely in ones which
deal with bespoke products, we have
since been able to grow 25 per cent
each year for the past three years.
Our greatest asset
We recognise that our people are
our greatest asset; we invest seriously
in team engagement and training
programmes, to allow our team to be
the best they possibly can. Recruiting
and retaining the right people comes
at a significant cost, in terms of money
but also in time and effort, but is
something we are fundamentally
passionate about.
Finding the right people is a priority
when it comes to the other companies
we work with, and is something that
everyone we talk to agrees upon when
it comes to the challenges of growing
a small business. Our experience,
along with that of other textile
manufacturing companies, shows
there is an immense lack of interest
from younger people to pursue jobs
within our sector.
Working both with a local textile college
and with regional apprenticeship
schemes, we have found that,
although the apprenticeship courses
being offered are exceptionally good,
encouragement needs to come earlier
in young people’s lives to draw the right
people towards the right courses.
We are looking to work further with
colleges and schools to try to inspire
and show young people the sense of
reward and fulfilment experienced
by practising your craft and creating
products of the highest quality. This
sense of achievement is not to be
underestimated, nor are the effects it
can have on an individual’s wellbeing
and sense of worth. By experiencing
this while at school, it will open the
door to successful career paths after
the age of 17.
Governmental contribution
Greater recognition is required
from the government; the value of
creative subjects such as art, craft
and design within schools at both
secondary and primary levels does
need to be emphasised. Children
and parents need to be educated
on the wealth of interesting and
rewarding opportunities out there for
craftspeople and designers in the UK.
It is vital for the UK to maintain its
reputation as a country with world-
class creative and manufacturing
skills. We are in danger of losing
that standing and, therefore, losing
skilled people to the countries that do
recognise this.
By nurturing
building trust
and opening a
dialogue, we
can best serve
our clients and
help them to be
»Fostering a positive, engaged attitude and a culture of continuous
improvement within the company.
»Using our design skills and unique manufacturing processes in
order to be agile and react quickly to changes in the market.
»Embracing new technologies, materials and ideas to improve
efficiency, productivity, service and products.
»Investing in our team both current and future.
A personalised solution
for a very personalised

This article was sponsored by Canvasman. 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