Business Profile: EOS Lighting

Brian Glynn, Director of EOS shares the current SME issues his ‘green’ business is facing, and what their growth plans are.

Tell us about your business.

We are a manufacturer and distributor of LED lighting products based in Harlow, Essex. We launched in March 2018, so we’re just over four years old.

My business partner and I had worked for several larger lighting manufacturers and from our experiences we really felt there was a better approach to doing business in this sector. We found that big lighting corporations are not particularly customer focused so our ethos focuses on the customer journey not just the products.

We are different by design.

We aim to be involved from project feasibility, into lighting design and product selection. Whilst we don’t do installation works, we will oversee the lighting install on behalf of the customer ensuring everything goes to plan, then provide aftercare including a five-year warranty. We really do provide the full cradle to grave process.

We have been very fortunate to work with larger organisations such as Telefonica and Westfield plus several London boroughs. That said, we have also worked with smaller companies with very specific needs such as colour changing lighting or smart controls. Our ethos is more akin to a consultant than sales, working with the customer, architect, consultant, or contractor on the lighting solution prior to a tender, so our equipment is specified and costed within a tender. Of course, we sell directly to the customer or contractor in a more traditional way, but again this with more of a consultative approach.

Can you explain more about being a ‘green’ business?

As providers of energy efficient lighting, we fall into the ‘green’ business category. It’s part of our business model to cut down on energy usage, cut down on wastage, maintenance and ultimately free up more time for the end user.

Lighting isn’t only about the bit that’s in the ceiling. It’s also about the controls and its usage. We advise our customers on efficiency savings which can be made just by ensuring you’re lighting everything in the right way. For example you can be box clever and automate your lighting so it’s only on when needed:

There’s no point saturating a wide area with light if the only work task is in the far-left corner. There’s no need to light the entire building for the sake of one small area.

We recently completed a 3500 luminaire project for Westfield, removing a 60w fitting and replacing it with an energy efficient 24w fitting, a saving of over 50%, but this isn’t the end of the story. By using our smart technology we are able to dim the lighting when there’s nobody present, dropping the energy consumption to just 1.2w, yet still providing enough light for the CCTV to see clearly.

What current issues does your business face?

We work in two distinct ways. We manufacture our own goods here in the UK and we also import from two manufacturers in France and Italy. So, we’ve had supply chain issues since the beginning of the first lockdown and thereafter we’ve been experiencing a greater challenge in shipping. Add in Brexit and we’ve gone from a typical cost to move a pallet to the UK which was around £130 to in excess of £300. During lockdown that cost quadrupled! Moving goods from Italy to the UK involved an Italian driver taking goods to the French border. A French driver brought them to Calais, then an English driver crossed the channel to pick them up and bring them back to the UK. Whereas a typical journey would have been covered by one driver – costs became astronomical!

Does this mean a bigger shift to more UK manufacturing?

Our own branded goods have always been manufactured in the UK. It gives us greater control. As you can imagine, moving a pallet across the UK is significantly cheaper and easier than shipping from Europe or even the far east. And of course, it’s good for the environment and the UK economy too. The amount of carbon expelled bringing in a box from China, compared to being manufactured in the UK, is horrendous. Many large-scale infrastructure projects and tier one contractors are now looking at this closely, there is definitely a focus on using local expertise and products.

We are a Made in Britain certified manufacturer. Going forward, I think there will be more focus on manufacturing in the UK and this is something we will certainly be investing in. It will make everything much easier to control from quality production to supply chain. As much of a challenge as Brexit has been, if it helps reinvest in British manufacturing and kick start some home growth then it will be a positive thing.

How else are you adapting to current business challenges?

Client funding is a current struggle, global events are current pushing cost up. There are lots of businesses that want to push on with both large and smaller projects, but there’s just not the money in the economy, especially for local authorities and government bodies. So that is a huge challenge and one we are now focusing on by offering funding solutions.

Tell us more about your funding solutions.

Our funded solution is a different sales model. It involves working with a customer to establish what they want to achieve. So, if they’re relighting a school for instance, we would undertake a survey of the school to establish their current energy baseline, we then optimise their lighting by undertaking the lighting designs and making sure it is compliant with the current lighting guidance. These designs would include switching to more energy efficient lighting and adding smart control options that would provide the client with huge savings – even replacing first generation LED lighting you can make significant cost savings. A report would then be provided outlining the project’s return on investment and highlighting cost savings to the customer. This enables the customer to justify funding the project from the savings they’ll make from their new energy consumption.

There is new business out there, you just need to find the right way of engaging with potential customers. If your customer is spending £20,000 a month on electricity and we can cut that consumption in half, then spreading the cost over a few years for new a lighting system becomes not only justifiable but also puts some working capital back into customer’s pockets.

Where do you see your business going in the future?

We have a well-defined growth plan. We want to grow the business substantially by taking on more project engineers, technical specialists and general office support. However, we do this in a very measured and sustainable way to make sure we are not overstretching ourselves.

We will ensure we make the right decisions for the business both financially and by having a robust supply infrastructure in place, this will allow us to grow in a controlled and managed way.

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