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Shropshire companies set for Japan visit

Bridgnorth | News | Published:

Businesses from Shropshire are set to head out for a major trade visit to Japan in a bid to develop contacts and win contracts in the Far East.

Five county firms are among the eight to have signed up for the visit, organised by UK Trade & Investments' branch in the county, which heads out this weekend.

Most of the companies are in manufacturing, with a number also holding interests in the automotive sector.

Bridgnorth companies Grainger and Worrall, Filtermist and Genvolt will be joined by Telford firm Midland Alloy and Newport-based HCI Systems on the visit.

They will also be accompanied on the six-night visit by Birmingham-based Delcam, Phoenix Calibration from Brierley Hill, and Leader Chuck Systems in Tamworth.

Richard Smith, the Telford-based international trade advisor for UKTI, said: "Japan is a market that is so developed that you have got to have something in the locker, a unique selling point to what you are attempting to take out there.

"Being British is going to stand you in good stead, but you have got to have something unique.

"All the companies that are joining the group are very specialist in what they do."

Japan is the world's third largest economy, with a gross domestic product of £5.96 trillion, with cutting edge technology a key part of the country's output.

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"It's still one of the economic powerhouses of the world, so from the point of view of opportunities it is fantastic to be taking an advanced engineering group to Japan," Mr Smith added.

The visit will include a trip to the Japan International Machine Tool Fair in Tokyo, as well as a reception at the British embassy in Tokyo, while the companies will also be organising individual visits to key manufacturers. Oil mist extraction unit manufacturer Filtermist already has contacts in Japan, and counts Asia as one of its key export markets, while technical castings firm Grainger and Worrall – the largest of the Shropshire firms participating, which counts cutting edge Formula 1 teams among its customers – will use the forthcoming trip to test the water for future work in the country.

Genvolt, based at Highley, is a manufacturer of high voltage power systems, is similarly using the trip to look into the possibilities presented by a relatively new market.

Meanwhile HCI, a small, cutting-edge automotive electrics company which also serves motorsport industries, will be hoping to use the visit to meet with some of the country's racing manufacturers.

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Complex metal product maker Midland Allow will use the trip both to generate new leads in the country, and to look into future technologies that it could use in its Stafford Park factory.

Mr Smith added: "From the point of view of what we want to achieve, each company has given us a wish list, and they all differ.

"While there is a standard programme – we have an evening reception and every company will be at the show on Monday – the rest of the week will be designed to each company's specifications."

Meet the companies representing Shropshire's manufacturing sector in Japan

Filtermist, Genvolt, Grainger & Worrall, HCI Systems and Midland Alloy will all set off with different expectations, but will universally hope to bring new business to Shropshire.

Mike Tickner of HCI said: "There's a massive motorsport industry in Japan so we are arranging meetings with Honda and Nissan, and some components manufacturers.

"We are not expecting orders straight away, but we want to keep going back to build relationships."

Filtermist's Alison Green said: "We've had a distributor in Japan for 15 years, who have been working well with us, and we hope to develop them further. This is an ideal opportunity for growth."

James Beirne, of Midland Alloy, added: "Networking is the key thing, to make some good contacts in areas we are looking to promote. It's also a research and development exercise."

Genvolt's Stuart Morgan said: "We have an enterprise in China, but not in Japan so we are making an exploratory visit, and I'm visiting a company we hope to collaborate with."

Charlie Bamber, of Grainger and Worrall, added: "We are focused on China but have customers in Japan, and this is a chance to refresh those contacts and expand our opportunities there by growing our network. It's a chance to expand that network one step at a time."

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