The family business started in 1980 by MD James Biggin’s father and business partner selling Sheffield-made gifts and quickly adding other product ranges in as demands changed. John and Peter ran the business for more than 20 years.
James came on board in the early 2000’s first learning the ropes in sales, then becoming a director in 2004. He describes himself as geekily obsessed with the company, pens and seeing how excited clients get when he gets some great ideas in front of them to use in their marketing campaigns.
“Our world- renowned Sheffield brand is surely something to celebrate? What started out as a child, when my grandparents taught me about Sheffield’s unique cutlery marque, always turning over knives and forks to check they were Made in Sheffield, has become something of an obsession. I learnt from an early age to understand the difference between stainless steel and silver plate, just from appearance: one appears “yellow”, one “black”.”
James’s father retired just as the last recession started. The company, like many, suffered in cashflow and profitability up to 2012. James made a host of changes and turned the business around. Sales steadied from that point and the company has experienced sustainable growth. It is now once again stable, running effectively with clear direction and a fantastic team spirit.
“The changes I implemented have made a massive difference to the business, allowing us to look further forward. We have placed a big emphasis on looking at our culture and values, the growth of the team and plans for the future. We have been in the same building for all 35 years, but we are currently in the final stages of negotiations for a property which will be a really exciting new space we can work on and make our own. As experts in promotional merchandise, we have also taken our own advice and looked to image branding experts to come up with an evolving of our current brand into a more modern look and feel. It is worth regularly visiting a brand image to check it still fits with how the company portrays itself.”
“We have just appointed a new business development executive and a marketing exec to join our core team of seven staff. With the team up to nine, it is a good time to push forward again. We now have the right people in place to cope with the increased demand of the new business we know is out there.”
“After stabilizing the business post-recession, we have built the solid foundations I always wanted to try and achieve- making me more confident and relaxed as a leader. I have learnt that trying to force things when times are tough simply doesn’t work. We had a good steady year of growth last year, a year during which we appointed a sales manager who is doing very well. We are working on the Government-funded Growth Accelerator programme and gaining fantastic support from the team at Business Sheffield. Even after a few meetings I am seeing the results on a personal, team and business level and would recommend anyone knock on Business Sheffield’s door. It is worth regularly visiting a brand image to check it still fits with how the company portrays itself.”
The sheer choice of promotional items now is enormous, but Steel City Marketing still hold the same Sheffield values that the company started with, 35 years on… and James is still checking his cutlery!