A road show coming to Southampton will encourage businesses across the South to use design to improve sales, protect jobs and compete in the tough economic climate.
The event which is taking place at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club on March 21, is being run by Marine South East and supported by the Design Council. It will bring together design experts, business mentors and manufacturing firms, to show how design can be a strategic and effective tool to boost performance, open new markets, cut costs and gain a competitive edge.
The Southampton event is part of a national business road show which aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of design in boosting business performance and encourage companies to apply for the subsidised programmes currently on offer to access business mentoring to help them use design more effectively.
One such programme - the Design Council's Designing Demand - has mentored over 650 SMEs in recent years with lots of success stories including Southampton business, Discovery Yachts.
This investment in design has helped the company grow turnover - from £6m in 2009 to £8.3m (2011) - and achieve an increase in sales despite the economic downturn. "This has a lot to do with the strengthening of our branding," Nigel Stuart, Managing Director said. "I can't over-emphasise the beneficial impact working with the [Designing Demand]
team had on our company."
"It's a challenging time for businesses, but now is the right time to invest in identifying new ways to grow," commented Ellie Runcie, Director of Design Innovation Services at the Design Council. "Designing Demand has helped hundreds of businesses around the country to realise the power of design and how to use it to diversify their products and services, strengthen their position in existing markets and open up new markets. We've seen many business owners go from design-sceptics to total enthusiasts through this programme, and we want to see that transformation across the region".