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Golden Bridge

The 19th edition of the prestigious Golden Bridge Trade& Export Awards for outstanding achievements in exporting between the UK and the Belux has been won by Soudal NV from Belgium and Ignition from the UK. The Awards were presented by the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (BLCC) and the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Awards were also won by export newcomer SYX Automations and by NMC, Projective and RWS.

This year, Soudal NV received the coveted Golden Bridge Export Award handed over by H.E. Mr Guy Trouveroy, Ambassador of Belgium to the Court of St James’s, during a glamorous gala ceremony in central London on 26 November. Soudal is Europe`s leading independent manufacturer focused on sealants, PU Foams and adhesives. Operative in four continents and 44 subsidiaries worldwide, Soudal remains a family owned company established in 1966.

Ignition won the award for British companies from Wim Eraly,Senior General Manager at KBC Bank. Ignition delivers bespoke online training solutions to some of the most successful companies in the world, including Toyota Europe, L’Oréal, and Yamaha. From their strategic hub in Belgium,Ignition have grown their international business development and results immensely and highly impressively in recent years.

Best newcomer

The award of Best Newcomer was handed out to Syx AutomationsNV. The Jury were impressed with how Syx Automations has been able to convince major UK attractions to choose their software solution over British competitors. Prestigious projects include the Shard and the National Maritime Museum. Syx Automations received its award from Glenn Vaughan, Chief Executive of the British Chamber in Belgium. Syx Automations is active in the field of leisure management software for the leisure market such as zoos, museums and theatres. Furthermore, they have headquarters in Ypres (BE) and offices in Nijkerk (NL), London (UK) and Ahmedabad (India).

Best small & medium-sized enterprises

Awards were also handed out to three successfully exportingSmall & Medium Entreprises: NMC, Projective and RWS.

NMC is a company founded in 1950 and active in the development, production and marketing of synthetic foams. Mr Jean-Claude Kugener, Deputy Head of Mission at the Luxembourg Embassy in London handed over the award of best Belgian medium-sized enterprise because the company has succeeded in a very conservative market place and has been able to increase market share further by selling directly to the end user via the internet. NMC Group realizes an annual turnover of 200 million Euros.

RWS Group received its best British medium-sized award from Thomas Spiller, Chairman of the British Chamber in Belgium. RWS is the world’s leading provider of excellent translation and language support. Eclipse Translations is a dedicated provider of translation and interpreting services and forms part of the RWS Group Commercial Translation Division. RWS Group was recognised by the Jury for their ability to successfully adapt to the Belgian market characteristics and grow their business consistently in an intensely competitive market.

Projective, set up in 2006 in Belgium, won the best small-sized company award. In less than ten years, the company has grown to a team of more than 90 project managers with local offices in Brussels, London and The Hague. Their prize was handed over by Carole van Eyll, Deputy for Economic Affairs at the Belgian Embassy. Given their consistent growth and on going development in London, the financial centre of Europe and even the world, the Jury were delighted to present Projective with this award.

“High-quality participants”

BLCC Chairman Michel Vanhoonacker said: “Even in its 19th year, the Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards, has lost nothing of its sparkle, attracting the best of the best in exporting between Belgium,Luxembourg and the UK. The UK and the Belux region are very important trading partners for each other, something which never hits the headlines sadly enough.Our combined trade exceeded that compared with of many of the newer, ‘trendy’markets such as China or India.”

See all the photos from last night’s Gala here!

Password: GB15

 

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK.

Can you tell us a little bit about what Syx Automation does?

Syx Automations delivers innovative high-end software solutions to the leisure industry. We provide the leisure market with cost-effective, integrated products that will help improve the  business operations and the guest experience. In addition to the ReCreateX software platform Syx Automations also offers access control systems, kiosks, mobile applications and IT infrastructure.

ReCreateX is available as client-server application, as well as in the cloud.

What has been your marketing strategy in the UK over the last couple of years?

We’ve been working on building brand awareness through our participation at different exhibitions aimed at the leisure industry, Media campaigns, and by promoting cooperation with first pilot clients

Why are you applying for the Golden Bridge Awards, and why do you think you should win?

As a BLCC partner since the start of our Ltd company in the UK we look at the Golden Bridge Award as a confirmation of our success in the UK market and as a recognition for all our work done so far.

As a small West Flemish SME we mainly based our UK ambition on gut feeling. We do not have the enterprise budgets for large scale market research. Growing naturally (not through M&A) takes time.

Time in which we have invested money, and will continue to do so. As we are mainly focused on the governmental tender based markets, sales processes tend to take several years (RFI / PQQ / TENDER)

Until now we succeeded in our plans. With only a handful of full time employees we managed to convince international leisure organizations such as The London Shard and Dreamland Margate, as well as large local governments (Norfolk County Council and Argyll and Bute CC)  and museums as the Royal Greenwich Maritime Museums and the Horniman museum.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK. Here we take a look at Soudal NV, and what they had to say about there moves into the UK market during their application process.

So can you give us a bit of an introduction to Soudal, what is it that you do?

Soudal NV is a leading manufacturer of sealants, PU-Foams and adhesives. The company, established in 1966 by its chairman, Mr. Vic Swerts, remains family owned. Soudal is a strong brand all over the world. It serves professionals in construction, retail channels and industrial assembly with end-users in over 130 countries worldwide. With 14 manufacturing sites on 4 continents and 45 subsidiaries worldwide, Soudal ensures optimal technical and logistical support. Innovative solutions in energy-efficient construction as well as versatile bonding solutions in construction, are examples of how Soudal supports its growth.

What has been your marketing strategy in the UK over the last 3 years?

Focus on specific market segments for example: the window installation market, roofing market, builders merchants. We have been researching on-site product application to pinpoint improvement and innovation opportunities and to develop & implement plan (incl. Point-of-Sales support).

Why are you applying for the Golden Bridge Awards, and why do you think you should win?

Soudal has invested in people, product development as well as marketing in order to build a solid position as a reliable supplier to the UK construction and Do-It-Yourself industry. Over the years, the Soudal brand has earned a position in UK hardware channels, at builders merchants and in retail stores. It has not been easy to cater for the UK construction market, which makes the result even more appreciated, especially by the Soudal UK team in Tamworth. But strong growth over the last decade demonstrates the high level of acceptance by the UK market.

Soudal has built a high degree of integration into the UK market, with an array of products specifically designed for the UK market. This has only been possible with a dynamic team of people in the UK that have worked hard with the product development team as well as production people in Belgium. The UK team has deepened the Soudal presence in the market by building close relationships with customers in a growing number of market segments. Soudal has an impressive track record of international growth and the development in the UK is no exception. It is based on respect for the UK market and a long-term vision to implement all necessary steps for sustainable growth. The results speak for themselves but the result is by no means an excuse to reduce our ambitions in the UK. New investments are planned and will enable Soudal to target further market segments in the years to come.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK.

What specific research did you do before entering the Belgian market?

We attended seminars on ‘how to do’ Business in Belgium organized by the NL Chamber of Commerce for Belgium & Luxembourg and by UKTI. We gained a deep understanding of the legal and regulatory constraints in the Belgian market. Our Eclipse business focused on public sector procurement and gained technical market information and competitive analysis related to national and local Belgian buyers of language services. We carried out market research in cooperation with UKTI and the UK Embassy in Brussels and also through BLCC member surveys for specific market sectors (legal & financial).

We identified consumers in our main areas of expertise, such as Intellectual Property (patents), law and life sciences. We studied how their needs were influenced by regulatory requirements (such as related to patent filing, court proceedings, patient rights etc.) and adapted our offer to the identified needs for translation and information services. We also studied the division of tasks between different market players such as industry, (patent) attorneys & CROs, specific to the Belgian market, in order to better target our products and communication efforts.

Based on this research, what changes did you need to make to the services you provide to adapt to your new business environment?

We have recruited Dutch and French speaking Business Development Managers, Account Managers and Project Managers for the Belgian market. We provide free local telephone and fax numbers for making contact with us. We have created Dutch and French localized versions of marketing collateral and of website (Eclipse) and portals which clients are now increasingly using for ordering and monitoring translation and patent filing orders. Since we are selling a service, a very personal approach adapting to the Belgian way of doing business in which personal contact and mutual confidence is very important, with regular visits to potential and existing clients We provide locally certified translations and have access to translators capable of translating localized translations for the Belgian market as well as local suppliers for translation and proofreading with knowledge of local context and terminology. A European Affairs Division was created to manage our contractual relationships with European bodies and institutions. We have recruited in-house Dutch and French translators and interpreters and accommodated for local office hours and different holidays.

How do you plan to develop and further your business in Belgium?

We aim to increase PR activities with focus on the Belgian market working together with BLCC and BCCB and other relevant organisations, giving us more exposure to potential buyers of translation, interpreting and related services. This will also be supported through the use of digital and social media platforms (such as twitter, LinkedIn etc.).

The use of portals for ordering and monitoring ongoing orders as well as ordered volumes per category over time has become increasingly important. We will increase our efforts to adapt them to the Belgian market and to provide onsite and webex-based training sessions explaining the use and benefit of all the portal functionality. We will continue to screen and selectively target public sector procurement of translation and interpreting services.

More interaction and touch points with existing clients and new prospects will be generated through increased digital marketing and through new lead generating activities; using for example Flanders Investment & Trade and AWEX sources of information will be used to identify companies that are looking to engage in export market visits by country and by industry.

We will aim to increase the number of market visits and our attendance at local exhibitions, for example the Trends Investment Summit in Brussels, the Knowledge for Growth conference organized by FlandersBIO and the annual IBJ/IJE conference. We will seek to engage local sales, account, project management and production resources.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

London Visit report - Mandelson

This week, James Pearson – Business and Trade Executive at the British Chamber gives us a report of the goings on at this year’s London Visit at the start of the month. The Visit included keynote speeches from Lord Mandelson and Ken Clarke MP!

On 9 and 10 November, the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium brought a delegation of members over to the UK for our first annual London Visit. With the outstanding support of our official Knowledge Partner, FleishmanHillard UK, we had a full two-day programme lined up with promising topics and speakers, and it did not disappoint.

Members were warmly welcomed by Jim Donaldson, Senior Partner & Managing Director of FleishmanHillard UK. Our first session was with the Rt Hon Lord Peter Mandelson who presented an overview of the future of Europe. He covered his top three areas of concern for Europe and the activities of the newly formed Britain Stronger in Europe. Mandelson looked at the pitfalls the current government could fall into during the campaign and also the impact that media have had and will have in the future.

We were hosted for lunch in the Houses of Parliament by the often candid Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, who engaged in a frank discussion about the internal politics facing the Conservative Party as we begin the long run up to the UK Referendum. The need for rational arguments versus emotional messaging to reach voters came across from the delegates and the speaker in order to shape the debate with the general public. After lunch, we had a tour of the House of Lords and subsequent introduction to the life of a parliamentarian, hosted by Mark Pawsey MP.

Our pre-dinner panel debate, chaired by Sir John Grant, involved voices from both sides of the referendum aisle: Alex Story (Business for Britain) and David Henderson (Business for New Europe) with their top three arguments for their own case. Not a topic to finish in an hour, this spilled into the dinner where journalist and guest speaker Julia Hartley-Brewer kept the conversation alive with personal and often highly entertaining observations about the UK debate and some of the key political figures involved.

The visit’s second day, hosted by FleishmanHillard at their brand new Bankside offices, started with a broader overview of the political landscape in the UK, with James Frayne from Policy Exchange. The referendum issue still a natural part of this conversation, including a discussion on the ideal versus realistic timing of holding the referendum, the session also covered power devolution to UK cities and regional autonomy, public finances, and digital business trends. Frayne’s remarks neatly bridged the Westminster-focused first day with the second day’s more tech-focused programme.

We then heard from Guy Levin (Coalition for a Digital Economy) and David Blake (Tech.London), who spoke about digital economy trends. This included a discussion on whether companies built for success in the 20th century would still be able to make it in the 21st century, and an analysis of the increasingly harder-fought battle for customer interface. The session further touched on the current and desired support for tech start-ups from Westminster, including whether tax breaks actually work as an incentive for fostering successful entrepreneurs. Finally, Guy and David discussed what cities need to do to emulate London’s success as a tech start-up hub and the need for sector specialization at a city level.

After lunch, we went into a discussion on longer and better living with Diarmaid Crean from Public Health England and Daniel Ryan from Swiss Re. From the perspective of a public health organisation and an insurance company, respectively, they gave us fascinating insights into the digital tools being developed and adopted to incentivise consumer behaviour towards healthier living. They discussed the importance of gamification, quality control issues with third-party mobile apps, and to what extent consumer data protection versus full data accessibility for organisations works in favour of the consumer.

Our final session was on future cities. Ben Lucas from the City Growth Commission presented interesting cases of UK cities who have become smarter in different way, and how cities who would previously have considered themselves fierce rivals have come together to cooperate over urban development initiatives. Ian Mihajlovic from Thriev gave us a tech start-up perspective from a business aiming to change city mobility through the UK’s first all-electric chauffeured service, while Joe Dignan from the Future Cities Catapult introduced us to the work of this government-supported centre aiming to develop smarter cities. The discussion focused on city case studies and what incentives drive cities to become smarter, as well as more macro-level structural issues to be addressed, e.g. skills gaps and labour market economics. The session closed on the note that cities are now more dominant than ever and that this trend will only continue in the years to come.

We then closed the London Visit programme with a reception on FleishmanHillard’s rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the London skyline.

From the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, we would like to thank all the speakers for their stimulating and though-provoking contributions, and the delegates for their highly engaged participation in the discussions. Last but certainly not least, we want to thank FleishmanHillard UK for their great hospitality and support in pulling an excellent London Visit programme together.

Stay tuned for updates on our 2016 visit plans!

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK.

Please provide a short history of your business in the UK (including why you chose to enter the UK market at the time you did):

At a time when consulting firms felt the brunt of the crisis – with profits under pressure and external consultant spending slashed – Projective continued expanding internationally with an office in London. With London being one of the world’s leading financial centres, it was a logical step to expand into the UK market, given that Projective specializes in delivering project and program management services to the financial services industry only. Projective entered the UK market in 2011. In 2015, the London staff grew from 12 to 25 full-time employees. The UK activity started as an extension of the work in Belgium, but it immediately became clear that the large market and the well-conceived Projective brand created more opportunities. We currently provide services to many tier 1 global banks and global insurers in the UK. We have proven to have a sustainable business model in a very difficult market and want to further grow this in the future. Projective has the ambition to further expand in the UK to cope with the increasing client demand, so attracting top quality resources remains key.

What are your future plans for business development in the UK?

We want to attract more resources to better serve clients and guarantee a 100% match with the client demand. The strategy to do that is twofold: Job site and CSR. Projective has been working on a job site for the last months. This career site is one for all Projective offices, and special attention has been given to a ‘UK touch’. On the career site, extra focus has been paid to diversity, a major cultural difference between the UK and the continent. This is a key element in attracting the right profiles and working on your employer brand.

Corporate social responsibility through actual business practices, ‘extracurricular’ activities such as charitable donations, or staff volunteering projects, is much more important in the UK. In Belgium, Projective set up a partnership with ‘Plan België’, an independent child NGO. Instead of just transferring money, Projective assisted Plan België with their finance transparency charter, which enabled them to raise more funds. For the general brand awareness, Projective is looking for similar projects in the UK.

Why are you applying for the Golden Bridge Awards, and why do you think you should win?

Projective is a niche player providing top quality services. On average, our project managers can draw on more than ten years of experience. This provides us with the confidence to address the challenges and demands of the marketplace regardless of complexity or scale. We are not a ‘traditional consulting company’. We remain entirely neutral and independent, while delivering the client’s agenda by working seamlessly with multi-disciplinary, multi-vendor, mixed resource teams.

Our flat organisational structure encourages all employees to build and grow themselves and Projective as a company, by getting involved in areas such as marketing, HR, finance or IT support. This means that the team is continuously stimulated and highly motivated, and this certainly contributes to the company’s success. We have a team-based approach where we share our experiences and collaborate to address our client’s challenges.

Projective has grown substantially in the UK over the past 4 years. The UK market is now the second most important market for our company. For our staff, the award would be an acknowledgement of the hard work that they have put into growing the company in the UK and for our clients, proof of their trust and confidence in Projective.

The Golden Bridge Awards will provide recognition of our success in the UK and enables us to enhance our image in both Belgium and the UK.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

Golden Bridge

With the announcement of this year’s Golden Bridge awards fast approaching, we’re providing a last look at the candidates before the awards ceremony in London next week. The awards recognise the achievements of companies making the successful leap from the UK to the Belgian market and from the Belgium and Luxembourg markets to the UK. Here we take a look at NMC and talk about their move into the UK market.

Can you tell us a bit about what your company does?

NMC is an international leading company active in the development, production and marketing of synthetic foams. Founded in 1950, NMC develops, manufactures and markets synthetic foam products. Our more than 1200 worldwide associates strive to develop innovative, reliable, and high-quality products supported by a complete service package. NMC Group realizes an annual turnover of 200 million Euros and has 12 production units and 20 subsidiaries worldwide.

Can you please provide us with a short history of your business in the UK and why you chose to enter the UK market at the time you did?

In the mid 1970’s we established that there was a market for a quality, lightweight alternative to decorative plaster in the construction and painting and decorating sector. Plaster being heavy and fragile, was not easy to transport or install so we looked for a material that was easy to mould but was light and durable. In February 1977 we launched our first range of Polyurethane Decorative cornice and ceiling centres.

Did you have to make any adaptations to your products or services specifically for the UK market?

With information gathered from the above reports it was confirmed that the biggest usage for coving in the UK was the mass paperfaced Gyproc sector. In 2010 we developed and created a range of 3 profiles in 2 formats to capture a share of this market. It was also apparent that to sell our products in the UK the length of the products (normally 2m in Europe) would have to be increased to 2.4m and 3m to satisfy the professional trade in the UK.

What are your future plans for business development in the UK?

NMC UK supply all the major companies in our market field, (B&Q, Wickes, Screwfix, Toolstation, Akzo Nobel, Crown Paints, Homebase, The Range, Burberry) we aim to continue working with these companies forming long term partnerships, providing new products and services and the continuous improvement of those we already offer.

Join us at the 2015 Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards to celebrate the best of Belgian, Luxembourg and British business. The awards, now in their 19th year, aim to promote trade between the UK and the Belux countries, and to promote the best and brightest in this dynamic and growing market. The awards will be hosted at a gala dinner in London on 26 November at the BLCC Clubhouse Ballroom. You can register for the event here! Don’t forget that for those travelling to London from the continent, an exclusive Eurostar discount is available. Please contact events@blcc.co.uk for details of how to book.

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