The proposed research topic addresses the subject of business strategy within Europe. The proposal will primarily address the reasons behind the choice of topic and what findings are expected as the outcome on completion of the work based project in May 2013. The Case Study Fairhurst Stone Merchants Limited was founded in 2001 by a Yorkshire Dales Farmer, Edward Fairhurst. Fairhurst identified a gap in the market and begun delivering stone to farmers and builders from the local quarry’s with a tractor and trailer.
In 2004, the opportunity arose to acquire an industrial unit and yard in nearby Kirkby Lonsdale, South Lakeland, and the company has since gone from strength to strength. In recent years, following a steep decline in residential developments the company has seen impressive growth and the acquisition of four quarries in the North of England. Fairhurst Stone is now responsible for supplying some of the largest commercial paving contracts within the UK.
Recent projects include the new NOMA complex - home of the Cooperative Group Headquarters in Manchester, St Pancras Station & King Cross Station in London and a large quantity of stone was supplied to the Olympic village earlier this year. During 2012, the economic crisis in Europe has undoubtedly impacted on the industry, however the company has recently acquired a larger premises due to the growth of the business and following the popularity of the unique ‘Whitworth Blue Sandstone’ investigations are underway, to determine the possibility of expanding in to new markets abroad.
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Background Further to the above Case Study, it is apparent that there is possibility to expand in to new markets within the industry. The stone market has recently seen a rapid growth in the Europe over the last decade with statistics revealing the levels of imports doubling in value, with the industry worth ? 1. 18 billion per annum at the consumer end. (Natural Stone Magazine, 2012) Leading growth has been primarily related to the interior tile industry and the falling price of imports has ultimately allowed the growth of markets in China & India, especially between 2000 & 2010.
However, in recent years, import prices have increased in to Europe and both Indian and Chinese stone has become less popular due to inflated prices and a decrease in quality. In the current economic climate UK spending has reduced in light of the recession, especially for private consumers, with many adopting a ‘make do’ attitude in some instances. In UK industry the commercial regeneration projects have seen a slight decrease. It is therefore imperative that strategies and tactics are launched in a bid to expand in to new and existing markets and generate new business relationships.
This proposal therefore endeavors to improve and reassess the marketing objectives of the European Stone Market and propose methods in order to influence and increase sales in the development of a marketing strategy. The work based project will use a case study, Fairhurst Stone Merchants Limited, to develop a European Marketing Strategy in order to ascertain Business to Business (B2B) relationships and export stone in to Europe.
As a stakeholder within the company, the knowledge of the product and the companies culture is already retained, making the project an attractive and interesting research avenue. In order for the company to experience market growth, the innovation of exploring new markets is crucial to the long term success of the business. An increase in competitor presence is apparent with barriers to entry and threat of substitute low.
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