McLaren has the formula for 4th Manufacturing Festival

McLaren 12C GT S
McLaren 12C GT S

McLaren Automotive’s production director will tell hundreds of people in Sheffield that the UK can export more if firms focus on marketing.

Alan Foster will tell 500 guests at the Manufacturers’ Gala Dinner, at Ponds Forge on Tuesday that selling a British luxury brand should not be taken for granted – even a McLaren.

Alan Foster

Alan Foster

“We have competition, from Ferrari, Lamborghini and others,” says Mr Foster. “We have been through a recession and, unlike popular belief, this group of customers are not recession-proof.”

Foster emphasises the importance of marketing as an essential part of the company’s approach to business: “Our customer liaison team strive to carry forward our motto – ‘to take your breath away’.”

The dinner is part of the fourth - and biggest - Global Manufacturing Festival in Sheffield. It also includes a tradeshow and conference on Wednesday at the AMRC Training Centre, on the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe, featuring 100 stands, 1,300 delegates and speakers from HS2, Siemens, Jaguar Land Rover and GE Oil & Gas.

The main aim of the Festival is to connect smaller suppliers with buyers at global companies.

Its growing reputation has seen three Chinese companies register to attend including tool moulding company Dalian Golde Trust. A business delegation from the oil fields of Alberta, Canada, are also attending - on the hunt for suppliers, researh facilities and talent.

They will be led by Matt Cornall, an investment officer at Access Prosperity of Central Alberta and a Sheffield Hallam University graduate.

He said: “Alberta will go from 2m barrels of oil a day to four in about eight years. We have a huge opportunity but a huge amount that needs to be done in terms of infastructure and manufracturing. Companies here know their supply chains will be global.”

He will join a panel debate at the dinner which is set to include Trevor Williams of Lloyds Bank, Master Cutler Tony Pedder OBE, Jan Ward of Corrotherm International and Brian Holliday of Siemens Industry UK, among other industry experts.

McLaren Automotive is an export success story, having sold over 3,500 of its first supercar, the MP-4 12C, mostly overseas. Production started in 2011 at its purpose- built, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Woking, Surrey.

Each car is packed with innovative performance technology, some developed in conjunction with its F1 team. McLaren has recently launched the 650s, their fifth car in four years, which incorporates elements of customer feedback, as well as improvements that their development engineering team considered would enhance the driving experience. A 650s starts at £195,000.

The main mandate of the Festival is to connect smaller suppliers to the procurement chains of big global companies. As a super-high-performance carmaker, McLaren has had to develop a global supply chain to support its ambitious product portfolio plans.

McLaren retains a 100 per cent design-led philosophy under its own control, but seeks to engage with like-minded, in some cases niche businesses as well as the larger, more global suppliers to manufacture its precision components.