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November 26, 2009

Nick Jones :Boldly go where no conference bag has gone before

Nexus Collections managing director believes the cure to recessionary woes is to look for opportunities outside your normal horizons.

I am a happy man – times may be tough, the news may be depressing and every third conversation mentions the “economic climate”, “credit crunch” or “recession” but I remain positive.  Why?  Aside from having my health and a wonderful family I have a background in accounting and know that opportunities are still available the world over.  And there lies the secret to my happiness, rather than focus on our domestic market, which continues to languish in a state of torpor, we have continued to look further afield – with remarkable results.

Whilst economists and the news may be reporting a “worldwide” recession they are talking in statistical, data laden relative terms.  Some countries have suffered considerably less than others, some have announced that they are already out of recession, and some never truly slowed down at all.

And there is no question that developing countries are still achieving rapid GDP growth rates.  The fact that China, India and Brazil for example are still achieving growth rates of between 5% and 8% is remarkable.  Throughout the good times and the bad you will always have growing, slowing, emerging and disappearing markets.  Predicting them is like predicting stock movements and currency change is a matter of experience and study but it is possible to identify potential markets as they start to expand and position yourself to benefit from their growth.

Developing countries

Over the past couple of years Nexus has continually targeted developing countries, through a variety of sales and marketing methods, each designed to reach key decision makers and buyers within those countries.  Our success rate has been phenomenal, with a 25% growth in overseas sales based on this activity.  In particular we have targeted countries and markets often considered difficult by our competitors and peers.  To do this we have worked with and sought the advice of a variety of government bodies, but it has been our own extensive experience, working in China where we operate our own fair trade factory, that has proved most useful.

Two examples of successful events in challenging markets have been:

•    The Nigerian Bar Association’s annual general conference which hosted 8,000 lawyers in Lagos, Nigeria.
•    Fifth Summit of the Americas which hosted 4,000 government representatives from the region in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Both of these were large international events but more importantly they are clearly in tune with the trends of developed economies. In particular I am referring to their use of environmentally responsible products. For example, the Summit of the Americas was very keen to demonstrate their environmental awareness through the use of environmentally responsible textiles.  Our worldwide launch of our green range came to their attention and provided us with the perfect opportunity to become a supplier when the Secretariat for the summit expressed an interest in PET computer bags.  PET is made from recycled post consumer plastic bottles, reducing landfill waste and the consumption of natural resources. This textile is a very modern and corporate alternative to jute or cotton because of its high quality polyester look, which it achieved whilst ticking various CSR goals.

Events and opportunities like these are taking place the world over – in fact our 25% growth figure in overseas sales is conservative and based on confirmed orders rather than the large number of quotes in the pipeline.  Macro economics and a worldwide economy present terrible challenges and difficulties in times of upheaval and change, they also present huge opportunities for those willing to explore new markets, try new ideas and think beyond their geographic comfort zone.

Nick Jones is managing director of conference bag specialist Nexus Collections

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