Firm invests at home to combat impact of coronavirus

Mar 09, 2020

A BUSINESS is increasing its investment in new equipment as it rallies to combat the impact of the coronavirus. 

USB2U, which specialises in branded tech and smartphone promotional products, is increasing its already significant stock holding, printing and engraving capacity in the UK to minimise disruption caused by supply chain and shipment delays in China.

The company has invested over £100,000 in production equipment and staff training in the last 18 months to grow its UK production, creating additional employment opportunities in the process. It is now gearing up to invest an additional £70,000 in new printers to further increase UK capacity.

USB2U, which employs 29 staff at its base in Northampton, currently operates seven state-of-the-art printers and four laser engravers. Its latest printing machines will enable the firm to print over 20,000 USB sticks and other tech products in one day. 

Managing director Sebastian La Porta said: “Delays have impacted the import of promotional products for the best part of two months, which is obviously a major concern for ourselves and our loyal customers.

“We invested heavily in stock prior to the Chinese New Year holidays – a 400% increase compared to the same time three years ago – and this has enabled us to fulfil orders and maintain delivery times for our customers.”

At work in USB2U’s print room

Past experience of events such as the air transport interruption caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 2010, earthquakes in Japan and a major fire at the memory chip factory operated by Hynix in China in 2013Hynix memory chip factory fire means the company cannot solely rely on the Far East supply chain to meet orders, he added.

“We are continuing to adapt our business to increase our printing and stock holding capacity in the UK with significant investments in equipment to future-proof our business against major global events. 

“This is good news for our customers as they will get products finished to the highest quality and in the fastest delivery timeframe, but will also enable us to secure existing and create additional jobs whilst supporting other local businesses, such as ink suppliers.”

Items including USB sticks and power banks for mobile phones are made in China. USB2U says that 40% of orders are printed with brand logos to fulfil customer orders prior to being shipped, while 60% are printed in the UK.

USB2U forecasts a 80% UK and 20% China split over the coming years due to the investment in more staff and new equipment.

Mr La Porta said: “We will continue to invest over the next 12 months to ensure we are in a strong position to withstand any disruptions to production in the Far East. It will also help us to reach our wider company aims of reducing our environmental footprint, as the majority of our blank stock is sent by sea rather than air.”

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