New in the Milton Keynes area is the S³Group, which was founded in Barcelona in 2003, dedicated to industrial sourcing in China for Spanish companies. In 2010, the scope was extended to other markets and activities to include market development and export services, and management training in cross-cultural relations and international business.
The founder and Group CEO is Tom Van der Heyden, a Belgian who, between 1988 and 1990, studied for his MBA at one of the world’s top business schools, IESE, in Barcelona, where he not only got the MBA but fell in love with the city in which he has lived ever since.
Tom is fluent in seven languages. After graduating and working in Asia for an industrial company managing its suppliers, Tom decided to set up on his own and the S³ Group was born.
During the past 18 years the company has successfully delivered well over 100 projects in more than 50 countries and established itself as a partner of excellence for clients with its extensive range of internationalisation services.
The company has offices in Barcelona, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and now the UK, in London and the South East Midlands region. The activities of S³ have taken it into many sectors, including:
- Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing;
- Automotive, Industrial & Agricultural Machinery
- Consumer Goods
- Food & Drink
- Product Design & Engineering Services
Its expertise, however, is not in the sector itself, but in the identification of suitable sourcing or export partners. With its full-time experts in engineering, production control and logistics management, plus boots on the ground in the foreign markets, S³ takes the time and risk out of:
- Supplier search, selection & negotiation
- Quality control and assurance
- International logistics
With years of experience and a strong presence in both Hong Kong and mainland China, S³ is a China specialist and thus well placed to help with this fast-growing market. While relations with China are somewhat strained at the moment, in the long run it is expected that British businesses will continue their fast growth in trade with the country, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies, and still the ‘factory’ of the world, with its large manufacturing base.
At the same time, S³ is also working in other countries, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, especially for products like PPE nitrile gloves, as these countries have the rubber plantations to produce the vast quantities now being demanded as a result of COVID.
Other products that S³ has been asked to source include glass jars, line paint and paint dispersal canisters, jigsaws, mattress components and fencing tools, as well as speciality components for medical cameras and laboratory equipment.
One of the pillars of the growth of S³ has been its ability to be ‘at home’ in all its respective markets, with a physical presence at both ends of the supply chain. To serve the UK market, S3UK Ltd was set up with University of Northampton Associate Professor Adrian Pryce DL, one of Tom’s MBA classmates all those years ago.
Adrian is also the Deputy Director of the University’s China & Emerging Economies Centre, which supports the SE Midlands region in developing civic, cultural and commercial links with China. S3UK Ltd is now a member of both the Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire Chambers of Commerce as well as the Silverstone Technology Cluster – and wants to play an active role in supporting the regional economy and its international trade links post-Brexit.
S3UK Ltd is an exciting new addition to the region’s business scene, with its in-depth and specialist knowledge that can help companies take advantage of fast-growing markets as well as benefit from the Asian cost advantage – whilst taking the risk out of foreign sourcing and trade.