The vast majority of goods these days are supplied from China and India, it is therefore more important than ever for us to invest in personally visiting Trade Fairs and Factories in order to keep updated with latest trends and products.

The trade shows in Hong Kong and China offer the largest and most diverse range of products in the world, allowing us to keep clients informed of the latest products being launched in the marketplace. Travelling to the Far East in person (offsetting our carbon emissions along the way) also enables us to visit factories we use, assuring both ourselves and clients of ethical working practices in the manufacturing process.

Clearly the more informed we are, the more value we add to relationships with clients, and the more competitive we can be by reducing steps in the supply chain.

We were pleased to see on our latest trip that environmental awareness is growing in China, albeit slowly, and perhaps more due to market forces than a desire to look after the planet. No matter the motivation though, the workforce in China is so vast and emerging at such a rate that any move forward in this direction will make a difference.

It was interesting to see the expanded use of materials such as Bamboo this year, in terms of office items, clothing, lanyards etc. We expect this trend to develop significantly over the next 12 months. Print and packaging are also showing improvements in terms of variety, design and quality, largely due to demand from the retail sector. Innovation in electronic items this year seemed focused around personal and home entertainment, rather than corporate and promotional items. Bags and Umbrellas were noticable in increased quality and variety, along with sporting goods no-doubt inspired by the Olympic Games in Beijing this year.

The trip is a significant investment in time and money, but is critical to continue enhancing our service to our UK clients. Aside from learning from and enjoying the culture in the Far East, the main benefit from the trip as ever, was found in improving relationships and communications with existing manufacturers, and establishing new ones where needed. The net effect of this will be increased consistency in quality and delivery of our products, offering a more valuable service at competitive prices.

Naturally we will be launching new and improved products over the coming weeks, as we see the latest sourcing trip bear fruit watch this space.

Were already looking forward to the next trip!

Matt & Miles