Chamber President’s Column - February 2018

Posted on 21/02/2018

Fast emerging ‘craft economy’ sets new standards.

Your Chamber undoubtedly represents one of the widest cross sections of industry and commerce. It is a unique feature that gives the Greater Birmingham Chamber Group a special appeal amongst businesses; and enables us to represent them, and their particular interests.

The recent trend for self-employment has led to a fast emerging ‘craft economy’. These often smaller businesses are able to offer vital personalisation and individuality, which can be outside the ability of the larger corporates to deliver. Craft ales, for example, immediately spring to mind. As I have said before, smaller outfits can be more nimble. They can react to changing market conditions and bring about wholesale changes beyond what they might have originally set out to achieve.

One of the key drivers of self-employment has been what these specialist small businesses can deliver in our economy

I have first-hand experience of exactly this, having grown my business from a self-employed contractor into Yee Group a successful company of more than thirty people delivering jobs and prosperity to Burton.

In terms of craft businesses, there is also the importance of heritage, taken from the pre-Industrial Revolution in this country, when our craft industries were at their height.

The increasing speed of development and application of the internet has transformed many sectors. The introduction of new technologies is consistently assisting new smaller businesses to set up. And here there are strong examples of hobbies being converted into viable business propositions.

These new business founders are to be applauded for taking the plunge; and having the confidence and the abilities to succeed. Their use of technology is likewise helping them to upskill. Some of this is taking place in the most unlikely places where personalisation can make all the difference.

Researchers in this area are suggesting that elaborate cake decorations, for example, will be significantly improved as advanced technology is applied. These cake makers will be using software and 3D printing to produce highly-personalised designs and decoration. Your Cup Cake will never be the same again!

Research carried out during December indicated that a growing number of festive presents and gifts would be made or sourced from ‘craft manufacturers’. Purchasers and recipients are increasingly attracted by these products.

The continuing upward trend in sales of these craft products looks unlikely to slow down. Sites like have played a major part in promoting those products.

Members recently reminded me that many customers are now paying much greater attention to checking where products are manufactured. This is motivated by a combination of factors such as the desire to support our domestic manufacturing industries and consideration of the environmental impact that can be attached to products.

At Yee Group, we constantly monitor our supply chain and the sources of individual and groups of products. We take into consideration the environmental factors surrounding their manufacture before making our purchasing decisions and placing orders.

The organisation Made in Britain is promoting British manufacture both at home, and abroad. Its logo is designed to make it clear that the purchase you are making is a quality British-made item. The linked network, through the website, is similarly designed and operated to assist British manufacturers to expand and thrive.

As their website points out, ‘Made in Britain works to unite, support and promote all manufacturers and the entire British manufacturing sector within the UK and around the world’.

aving checked out the website, it is clear that ‘if your start-up business can prove you are manufacturing a product in a factory, workshop, or studio in this country, there are benefits to joining this not-for-profit organisation’.

I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]

Simon Chapman

President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce

Managing Director, Yee Group Limited