A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by D P I 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 D P I 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


Managing Director Sandra
All our lightboxes and
frames are bespokely
manufactured in the East
DPI UK is a tailored manufacturer of soft signage display
products, including aluminium frames, structures and
lightboxes. It has grown dramatically in five years gaining
clients in the retail sector, as well as airports, exhibition halls and
branding agencies. Managing Director Sandra Wiggins, who
co-founded the business in 2014 with business partner Paul
Tomlinson, explains she can work with any business that wants to
highlight their brand and create an engaging visualexperience.
Having worked with Paul at another organisation in the past, we decided to take
the leap in 2014 and founded our own business. Starting out as distributors
of fabric faced light boxes for a European company, we learned quickly that to
build a sustainable business we needed to be self-sufficient and manufacture in-
house. We have never been afraid of hard work and by building partnerships with
professionals we developed a greater understanding of the industry to ensure we
deliver an attractive, safe and high-quality product.
We have always taken a driven and ethical approach and set out a clear ethos for
the business that our staff have bought into. All our manufacturing is completed
on-site, and we instil the confidence in all our employees that they can be
representatives and ambassadors for the business. Paul has 30 years’ experience in
the trade and has played a crucial role in creating this atmosphere.
Our suppliers are all based in Europe and components are imported before being
utilised to create entirely bespoke solutions for our clients. We can manufacture to
almost any size with the size of the printer being the only limitation. The versatility
of fabric and the variety of sizes and shapes we can produce has caused it to take
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 2014
»Based in Castle Donnington
»Services: Tailored
manufacturer of soft signage
display products, including
aluminium frames, structures
and lightboxes
»No. of employees: 14
Highlighting best practice
a leading role as a display tool at the
expense of rigid media. Our operations
are responsive to logistics and we
realised that fabric units are quicker,
lighter and take up less space while
being transported. Equally, when
clients want an instantaneous change
of display, fabric makes this easier.
Collaborators, partners, advisers
A large part of the design process
involves collaboration with the creative
agencies that work alongside our clients.
This involves the agency supplying us
with a design on which we discuss
feasibility, before passing it on to the
manufacturing stage. It is vital that we
engage with the agency actively to
ensure we can deliver the design to the
highest quality and in the shortest time
period in order to meet the speed of
display turnover in the retail sector.
This process is very much a partnership
and we utilise our expertise within
the manufacturing sector to act
as a trusted adviser to our agency
colleagues. Problem solving is a large
part of this role and we have to present
our plans in an evidenced-based
manner while also offering acceptable
alternatives. We must be resilient
throughout the process, understanding
that setbacks can occur, while also
managing the time pressures of fast-
moving industries. Throughout these
discussions it is vital that we retain the
values of honesty and integrity upon
which we have built the business. We
are the best-kept secret within our
industry, and we have to willingly step
back while we witness the agencies
take credit for a collaborative project.
We don’t mind though, because
our clients keep returning to use our
Team spirit
We currently employ a 14-person
team, which is split into divisions
of sales, production, operations,
administration and accounts. The
team are committed to the business
and our future and we will be
recruiting new talent that will help us
remain competitive going forward.
A comprehensive focus on research
and development is also central to this
process and we are working closely
with local universities and chambers
of commerce to achieve this. We
are highly ambitious and aware of
the need to continue evolving our
approach. There are new areas of
the sector we can look into and new
skills that our staff team can acquire.
Recently we have put structures in
place to ensure we are maximising our
productivity and potential, while also
looking at issues like mental health and
wellbeing to grow the resilience, work
ethic and happiness of our team.
As part of this process I have become
a certified mental health first aider,
which allows me to help the team
but also improve my leadership
skills. I felt I needed educating in the
area of mental health, as in our last
The use of printed
fabric allows almost
anybody to change out
the image without the
need for intrusive and
costly fitters – perfect
for those seasonal and
promotional changes
We are the
secret in the
A large stock available
of the widest variety of
aluminium profiles in the
recruitment phase for production
operatives I was meeting more
youngsters that were suffering with
anxiety. We hear unemployment is
at an all-time low, but after receiving
over 700 applications for two roles
and hearing how many applicants had
been on temporary contracts it’s no
wonder anxiety has increased.
The team were independently allowed
to draw up our mission statement and
core values, and I feel the awareness
of what we are trying to achieve
together is positive for the day-to-
day atmosphere. We hold workplace
visits for local charity TwentyTwenty
which supports disadvantages
youngsters with their employability
skills. We leave the team to plan
the visit and work alongside the
youngsters, as the greatest benefit is
the hands-on experience they gain in
a workplaceenvironment. The team
benefit as it supports their confidence
and mentoring skills in this diverse
Weighing caution and risk
Our industry is in a state of flux, with
smaller players being swallowed up
by larger organisations, economic
slowdown and a feeling of uncertainty
that is putting pressure on business
owners. This creates opportunities and
challenges for us, and we are cautious
when dealing with the demands of
the big players in our sector. Payment
terms are one area in which difficulties
can arise, with many larger companies
paying on a 120-day basis.
That puts pressure on the smaller
SME’s working capital. We sometimes
turn work down because maintaining
our own business is more important
than overstretching and drowning in
overheads, while our focus is on paying
the people we owe and building a
sustainable model for years to come.
This is not to say that we are not risk
takers – few risk-averse companies
grow at an average 38 per cent a
year, as we have – but we are always
aware of what we can justify. We are
aware of the increasing pressures that
are being placed on employers with
rights increasingly waited towards
the employees and health and safety
boxes to tick. The ongoing political
uncertainty further compounds this
issue and I find it difficult to show
confidence in any political party in the
current climate.
Few risk-
grow at an
average 38
per cent a
year as we
I have become a LLEP Enterprise Advisor. I was approached by the LLEP to
get involved and when weighing up the time it takes me to work with some
of the team to build their resilience and understanding of behaviour in a
work environment, it sounded like a good idea. In my view, we need to work
collaboratively with education to bridge that communication gap around
employers’ expectations.
For me, the compromise of my time is: I would like to work with those that
lean more to vocational skills, those that may need a little more help with their
resilience and confidence. I see those youngsters as our future workforce. There
seems a disproportionate value placed on those with academic against vocational
skills that in my view is leading to some youngsters leaving school with low
esteem. Maybe I have an idealistic view, but without those individuals, where
would the trades we utilise every day be? Who would manufacture products for
us to sell or export? It’s always about the bigger picture for me. Our lightboxes are
used in many different
environments to
enhance clients’ brands


This article was sponsored by D P I 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 Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster