James C Brett Yarn Merchants Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by James C Brett Yarn Merchants Ltd'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 James C Brett Yarn Merchants Ltd 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.jamescbrett.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | CALMAG
Other challenges
Alongside these legislative concerns,
we have faced other challenges over
the years – including finding sufficient
and capable sales staff. This is an area
where we have found it often difficult
to recruit; there seems to be an overall
lack of careers advice for young people
who may have a talent for sales.
Additionally, it took years for us to
find a training provider to deliver sales
and marketing training; thankfully,
however, we did, and have since
worked with them for ten years
delivering in-house courses under the
Institute of Sales Management.
Moreover, training in all areas, not
just sales, is expensive; while we
have enjoyed some funding for
courses such as engineering and
administration, we do feel that sales
is wholly undervalued. We believe it
should receive more focus under the
government’s new apprenticeship
programmes, such as the levy.
Another area that has become more
prevalent in recent years is the number
of employees who suffer from mental
health issues. We feel this is an area
that SME organisations often do not
have the HR capacity to effectively
deal with; one or two-day courses on
the topic often do not give sufficient
information, and a specialist office
practitioner is clearly the way forward.
Something must be done to clarify the
best course of action in this regard
to ensure we are fully supporting
ouremployees.
On a financial level, the decline in
the value of the pound to overseas
currencies has been challenging. We
have seen a significant increase in costs
thanks to the US dollar rate falling, and
this has only been further compounded
by Brexit uncertainty.
Finally, export and import have been
difficult over the past 12 months,
namely with regard to deliveries
leaving the ports once goods have
arrived in the UK. We have seen an
overall increase in times, which is
incredibly frustrating; some deliveries
have been up to two weeks late,
which causes issues throughout the
supplychain.
A drive to see standards
improve
In the future, we would want to see
water standards improve and new
mandatory regulations come into play
for products that would improve the
efficiency of homes, businesses and
publicbuildings. At present, these are
classed as “good working practices”.
We would welcome an opportunity
to be involved with other groups as
well as the memberships we currently
enjoy with the British Electrotechnical
and Allied Manufacturers Association,
NSF International, EST, the Chartered
Institute of Plumbing and Heating
Engineering, SAVE International and
our local chamber of commerce.
Further partnerships would only allow
us to share quality, safe working
practices within the plumbing and
heating industry – as much of it
remains unregulated to date.
We have
always had a
strong focus
on staff
development
Scale inhibitors for
both domestic and
commercial use from the
Calmag family range
39JAMES C BRETT |
MANUFACTURING & SERVICES
Directors James Brett, Eddie
McBrien and Jamie Brett
Designed by Jenny Watson
Originally established retailing yarn on Leeds Market, James
C. Brett have expanded and diversified, supplying a range
of retailers, from small independent shops to larger national
retailers. They are committed to ensuring that their products remain
accessible to everyone and so always seek to strike a balance
between affordability and product quality. Director Eddie McBrien
discusses how they have embraced social media to increase their
brand exposure and how creativity will never go out of fashion.
The company was established by James C. Brett in 1964, retailing yarn on Leeds
Market. The business has evolved considerably, and, since then, we have stepped back
from retail and have begun to supply wholesale to retailers. This has become our main
focus. We split our supply between manufacturing certain lines ourselves in the UK
and importing from Turkey, something that is increasing across the sector due to the
high costs of domestic production. We are a family business, which I joined in 1974.
We cover the whole of the UK and also export to a variety of countries including
the US, Canada and the Republic of Ireland, supported by our team of seven
travelling salespeople. Our approach to the domestic market is varied, and we
cater for a range of clients, encapsulated by our motto: “big enough to cope, small
enough to care”. These clients can range from small independent retailers to larger
corporations through to web-based retailers.
Key to supporting this range is treating all customers equally: in our view, we do
not have big customers or small customers – we just have customers. We strive
FACTS ABOUT
JAMES C BRETT
»Directors: James Brett,
JamieBrett and Eddie McBrien
»Established in 1964
»Based in Bingley, West
Yorkshire
»Services: Yarn manufacture
and wholesale
»No. of employees: 21
James C Brett
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | JAMES C BRETT
to develop friendly yet professional
relationships, and our service is a
key part of our success. In order to
maintain this service, it is essential that
we understand the requirements of
small retailers. As they often need to
replenish their stocks quickly, we have
a 24-hour warehouse service open to
them. This attention to detail has led
to long-term customer relationships.
One of our customers, who covers
Eastern Europe, has been working with
us since 1970.
Balancing quality with
affordability
Many people think that the hand-
knitting sector is shrinking, but there
is still a lot of demand. We continually
come up with new products that act
as inspiration to our knitters while
remaining cost-effective. Nobody
knits in the UK for financial gain: it
is primarily a pastime and a hobby,
so encouraging creativity is our
key focus. We employ a number of
freelance designers who focus on
hand-knitting. We spend considerable
time and money on this aspect of
the business because we know that
it is vital to offer a full package to
ourcustomers.
We visit our suppliers in Turkey two or
three times a year to tour the mills. We
also use these trips as an opportunity
to share ideas, and, throughout the
year, we select about ten new ranges.
We then take these ranges to our
designers to get their feedback. From
start to finish, it takes six months to
turn an idea into a finished product.
This then goes to market, distributed
by our salespeople.
One of the things that sets us apart
from our competitors, and the sector
more widely, is our ability to bring
exciting, inspirational yarns to the
market at a cost that the majority
of knitters can afford. There are a
combination of factors that allow us to
do this. Internally, we run a relatively
lean ship, and our relationships with
our suppliers mean that we can source
economically without compromising
on the quality of the product. Our
longevity shows the success of our
model. Many brands exclude the
majority of the market, charging
a price that is beyond the budgets
of many hobbyists. We focus on
inclusivity, ensuring that everyone can
access our products.
This tactic is especially important
considering the concern around the
shrinking of the sector, which has been
going on for the last 40 years. The
retail sector is changing, and we have
to be mindful of this.
Designed by
JulieLangham
Big enough to
cope, small
enough to
care
41JAMES C BRETT |
MANUFACTURING & SERVICES
Building brand exposure
In order to expand our brand exposure,
we have invested in our website,
adding functions so that our customers
can order products directly, rather than
just viewing our range. Social media
is becoming increasingly influential,
and blogging is becoming particularly
important to our industry. The ability to
sell online will also allow us to expand
into a more international market, and
we have already exported to customers
in Germany, South Korea, the USA,
Mexico and Canada.
Beyond this, we attend three main
trade shows: The Craft Hobby and
Stitch International Show at the
NEC in Birmingham, Handarbeit in
Cologne and The National Needlearts
Association Exhibition through our
distributor in the USA. The CHSI
exhibition is geared towards the
domestic market, Handarbeit is
focused on international buyers and
the TNNA event helps us to expand our
reach into North America.
One of the major challenges we have
faced was a major fire in 2003 that
decimated our spinning mill. While
this could have been the end of the
company, we dusted ourselves down
and overcame this hurdle. We have
not reinstated the mill, but we have
nevertheless managed to grow the
business substantially.
Another factor that affects us is
currency uncertainty. As we are
involved in imports, fluctuations in
currency directly influence our prices.
Our sector will only accept one price
increase per year, so we need to gauge
and predict how currencies will fare
when we set our prices. Brexit has of
course contributed to these spikes, and
this affects our supply chain, so we
have to remain mindful.
Beyond this, we believe that the
high street needs support from the
government if there is to be a fair
playing field. Many of our retailers are
critical of the rents and high street
rates they have to pay. Everyone
should consider the disappearance
of the high street, not just for its
retail opportunities but also for
the social aspects that it provides
tocommunities.
We are looking to develop what we
already have, focusing on social media
to drive us forward. We believe that
the appeal of creativity will never fade,
so we are confident that there will
always be demand for our products. By
continuing to expand our exports while
staying true to our high street retailers,
we look forward to thriving for many
more years to come.
In our view we
do not have
big or small
customers –
we just have
customers
Designed by
JennyWatson
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | JAMES C BRETT
to develop friendly yet professional
relationships, and our service is a
key part of our success. In order to
maintain this service, it is essential that
we understand the requirements of
small retailers. As they often need to
replenish their stocks quickly, we have
a 24-hour warehouse service open to
them. This attention to detail has led
to long-term customer relationships.
One of our customers, who covers
Eastern Europe, has been working with
us since 1970.
Balancing quality with
affordability
Many people think that the hand-
knitting sector is shrinking, but there
is still a lot of demand. We continually
come up with new products that act
as inspiration to our knitters while
remaining cost-effective. Nobody
knits in the UK for financial gain: it
is primarily a pastime and a hobby,
so encouraging creativity is our
key focus. We employ a number of
freelance designers who focus on
hand-knitting. We spend considerable
time and money on this aspect of
the business because we know that
it is vital to offer a full package to
ourcustomers.
We visit our suppliers in Turkey two or
three times a year to tour the mills. We
also use these trips as an opportunity
to share ideas, and, throughout the
year, we select about ten new ranges.
We then take these ranges to our
designers to get their feedback. From
start to finish, it takes six months to
turn an idea into a finished product.
This then goes to market, distributed
by our salespeople.
One of the things that sets us apart
from our competitors, and the sector
more widely, is our ability to bring
exciting, inspirational yarns to the
market at a cost that the majority
of knitters can afford. There are a
combination of factors that allow us to
do this. Internally, we run a relatively
lean ship, and our relationships with
our suppliers mean that we can source
economically without compromising
on the quality of the product. Our
longevity shows the success of our
model. Many brands exclude the
majority of the market, charging
a price that is beyond the budgets
of many hobbyists. We focus on
inclusivity, ensuring that everyone can
access our products.
This tactic is especially important
considering the concern around the
shrinking of the sector, which has been
going on for the last 40 years. The
retail sector is changing, and we have
to be mindful of this.
Designed by
JulieLangham
Big enough to
cope, small
enough to
care
41JAMES C BRETT |
MANUFACTURING & SERVICES
Building brand exposure
In order to expand our brand exposure,
we have invested in our website,
adding functions so that our customers
can order products directly, rather than
just viewing our range. Social media
is becoming increasingly influential,
and blogging is becoming particularly
important to our industry. The ability to
sell online will also allow us to expand
into a more international market, and
we have already exported to customers
in Germany, South Korea, the USA,
Mexico and Canada.
Beyond this, we attend three main
trade shows: The Craft Hobby and
Stitch International Show at the
NEC in Birmingham, Handarbeit in
Cologne and The National Needlearts
Association Exhibition through our
distributor in the USA. The CHSI
exhibition is geared towards the
domestic market, Handarbeit is
focused on international buyers and
the TNNA event helps us to expand our
reach into North America.
One of the major challenges we have
faced was a major fire in 2003 that
decimated our spinning mill. While
this could have been the end of the
company, we dusted ourselves down
and overcame this hurdle. We have
not reinstated the mill, but we have
nevertheless managed to grow the
business substantially.
Another factor that affects us is
currency uncertainty. As we are
involved in imports, fluctuations in
currency directly influence our prices.
Our sector will only accept one price
increase per year, so we need to gauge
and predict how currencies will fare
when we set our prices. Brexit has of
course contributed to these spikes, and
this affects our supply chain, so we
have to remain mindful.
Beyond this, we believe that the
high street needs support from the
government if there is to be a fair
playing field. Many of our retailers are
critical of the rents and high street
rates they have to pay. Everyone
should consider the disappearance
of the high street, not just for its
retail opportunities but also for
the social aspects that it provides
tocommunities.
We are looking to develop what we
already have, focusing on social media
to drive us forward. We believe that
the appeal of creativity will never fade,
so we are confident that there will
always be demand for our products. By
continuing to expand our exports while
staying true to our high street retailers,
we look forward to thriving for many
more years to come.
In our view we
do not have
big or small
customers –
we just have
customers
Designed by
JennyWatson

www.jamescbrett.co.uk

This article was sponsored by James C Brett Yarn Merchants Ltd. 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