Bristol plays host to a multinational gathering at its international distributor conference
Published on 29 July 2009
The conference highlighted the significant contribution of Bristol's distributors
Bristol welcomed 34 distributors representing 19 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Gulf States to its recent international distributor conference held in the city.
The 3 day event was centred on the Brigstow Hotel and included visits to all parts of Bristol's main research and production facility at Staple Hill and new warehousing facility in Yate. The conference dinner was held aboard the SS Great Britain.
Despite the global recession, the conference was well attended with delegate numbers on a par with previous conferences. Distributors were upbeat about their performance over the past year and optimistic about new opportunities into 2010.
During the last 5 years the company has expanded its export sales by 20% and grown the number of countries using its firefighter PPE from 90 to 110. Its distributor network, which has been, and continues to be, central to the company's international expansion plans, has grown by 40% from 50 to nearly 70 since 2005, reflecting the key role which local distributors play in identifying new opportunities, building relationships with the emergency services in their own countries and using Bristol's global brand and international reputation to secure orders against stiff competition.
The conference provided Bristol the opportunity to showcase its new products and, during tours of the Staple Hill site, familiarise distributors with new designs, technical resources and the latest computerised production equipment.
Recent expansion of the company's managed services facilities, which include special decontamination processes for PPE exposed to various types of chemical contaminants and asbestos, were part of the extended facilities included in the technical tours provided by factory staff during the visit.
Distributors were also given a tour of a new 10,000 ft² warehouse facility at Stover Road, Yate, where the company's finished stock has been relocated. This has become necessary to accommodate the expansion in office space required for new staff recruited to handle the growth in business in the UK and abroad.
The importance of the Bristol's supply chain was highlighted by the contribution made by 6 of the company's major partners whose fibres and fabrics together play a vital role in allowing Bristol to design and manufacture world class personal protective clothing. Conference time was dedicated to presentations from Bristol's major suppliers including fibre producers PBI Performance Products and Dupont Personal Protection.
Leading fabric suppliers WL Gore, Hainsworth's and Heathcoat's, along with trim suppliers 3M UK, were also on hand to update the delegates on the latest technical advances in flame, moisture and heat resistant fabrics and high viz safety protection for today's firefighter.
Commenting on the undoubted success of this year's conference, Roger Startin, Bristol's joint MD, said, "We were delighted to see so many of our family of distributors make the long journey to the UK despite challenging conditions in their own home markets. We took the time to examine together the keys to successful new business development and, in particular, the importance of the tender process and handling international competition. There was ample time for our management team to focus on the opportunities created by our introduction of new structural, wildland and USAR protective clothing over the past 3 years, the growing interest in our managed services capability beyond the UK and a comprehensive look at current projects and new developments."
He concluded by saying that "the very significant expansion which Bristol has achieved overseas would not have been possible without the major contributions made by, and commitment of, our distributors. We thank them again for their hard work and loyalty to the Bristol brand and wish them every success for the rest of 2009 and 2010."
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