Sector Development


Sector Development projects are usually undertaken by public sector organisations to support the growth and development of businesses, encouraging the formation, growth and development of industries identified by Government as being important to the growth and sustainability of their economies.

AP Benson can work with public sector partners to develop interventions and programmes that address a range of issues, including:

  • Assisting SMEs and collaborations between SMEs to compete at a national and international level
  • Improving corporate governance and strategic planning among SMEs
  • Addressing barriers to entry and certification standards with SMEs
  • Workforce planning including training provision and recruitment from outside a region
  • Organisational planning and development of deployment plans for public sector programmes addressing the private sector

Work with the Welsh Assembly Government:

In Wales, for example, the Ministerial Advisory Group has identified 14 key sectors as being important to long-term, sustainable growth:

"Core and Enabling Sectors: The agreed list of sectors starts with three core or enabling sectors, which are of significant importance to the economy and, therefore, our top priorities. They are: energy and the pursuit of clean and renewable energy generation and supply; environmental management based on the need to minimise energy use and maximise energy efficiency, both in industry and in domestic settings; and telecommunications and information and communications technology, which is the backbone and key enabler of the knowledge economy. Both are high-growth sectors in their own right.

Strategically Important Sectors:

Next are six sectors that are not necessarily enabling, but which are strategically important to Wales. These sectors are bio-science, health, financial services/products and professional services, creative industries, automotive and aerospace.

Economically Important Sectors:

Finally, five sectors have been identified that are economically important to Wales and the world, but less strategic for developing our competitive advantage. These sectors are construction, food, defence, retail, and leisure and tourism. Focusing on these sectors does not close Wales for business in other sectors where there might be start-up, growth or inward investment opportunities. The Welsh Assembly Government recognises that there are already successful companies in other sectors, and remain committed to supporting enterprise and innovation. The Welsh Assembly Government also recognises that they will need to be flexible within the key sectors and keep the sectors list under review."

Through its work with the Welsh Assembly Government's Department for the Economy and Transport, AP Benson is working to develop interventions with SME companies in these sectors.   We have examined, for example, the use of ICT and the potential benefits of the development of digital networks to support greater cooperation, collaboration and competition between SME businesses in these sectors.   We are, specifically, working to develop initiatives with companies engaged in the social housing supply chain, the creative industries, e.g. TV, special effects and video game production, and among networks of innovators in the Welsh market.


Work in the Automotive Sector in the West Midlands

Business Strategy Development (BSD)

With support from Advantage West Midlands and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, AP Benson undertook work with SME automotive parts manufacturing companies in the West Midlands to deliver a programme of change management and a Business Strategy Development network.

The participating companies were:

Zeus Group (now Caparo Aluminium) - Manufacturers of complex aluminium precise sand castings mainly for the automotive industry
Plastic Coatings - Plastic coating, metal finishing, powder coating & chemical resistance specialists
Clamason Industries - A precision presswork manufacturer
Danstan Engineering - General and bespoke fabrication
Widney Group - Cabs manufacturer
Petford Tools- Specialist toolmaker for Plastic Injection, Compression and Composite Moulds

AP Benson's Craig Livingstone said "The process involved reviewing a range of strategic issues, including Cost Down; Strategic Issue Assessment; People - motivation, retention, training; Leadership; Long Term Survival; Quality Standards and Overseas Competition."  

"We led a process with senior managers and more junior colleagues to develop and encourage adoption of positive action plans by the participating companies. Other outcomes include improvements in their competitive positions within the industry and the ability to address specific strategic issues such as threats from overseas competition".

"Another encouraging outcome from this network is the recognition of its value to the participating companies and the collective knowledge gained" stated Craig Livingstone.

Case Study: Zeus

AP Benson provided services to assist Zeus in addressing several key issues that had been identified as a result of participating in the BSD network.

Zeus, based in Wollaston in the West Midlands, was a low to mid volume manufacturer of high precision castings and provider of tooling services to the automobile, aerospace and general engineering industries. The company employs 306 staff and has a turnover of £6.5m.

"The key areas we wanted to focus on were training; communication; labour and teamwork as we believe these are fundamental in the improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of Zeus" stated Neil Williams, Managing Director, Zeus

Neil said "The extensive productivity review and training recommendations submitted by AP Benson have led to the development of a 10 month extensive training period for our staff. Positive outcomes have included greater job satisfaction, improved product efficiency, increased profitability and sales. Our culture shift has led to higher recruitment and retention levels. We would like to be seen as the employer of choice in the West Midlands."

Case Study: Plastic Coatings

As a leading trade coater in the UK, Plastic Coatings produces a wide range of coating products for anti-corrosion coating, weatherproofing, electrical insulation coating, dry lubricant coating, non-stick coating or purely decorative coating.

Whilst the company has several sites across the UK this project involved the West Midlands production site at Kingswinford.

Working with director Malcolm Edwards, a similar intervention was undertaken at Plastic Coatings.   Subsequently, at Malcolm's request we assisted Plastic Coatings in selecting, purchasing and managing the implementation of an integrated, industry specific manufacturing resource planning application.

Strategy Development Network (SDN) 

Working with the core group of participants in the BSD network, together with new recruits, AP Benson developed a follow-on network, the Strategy Development Network (SDN) as a forum for strategy development for companies in the automotive supply chain.

"The SDN was created to enable companies to share experiences with other network participants and outside expert speakers" continues Craig "The network covered strategic areas such as Competitive Position as a Basis For Action; Financing Growth; Sharing Risk and Reward; Building a Resource Base to Enable Strategy Delivery; Development of New Markets/Opportunities; Developing Customers; Management Team Development; Corporate Governorship; Planning and Control of The Business. Each organisation was able to develop business plans, understand the strategic issues and develop appropriate implementation plans".

AP Benson's expertise provided expert services in areas such as:

  • Understanding threats and anticipating opportunities - establishing strategic thinking
  • Financial strategies and project payback
  • Management team development
  • Competitiveness - provide participants with tools and techniques for the assessment of their competitive positions
  • Supplier & Customer development strategies
  • Transformation and the development of an IT strategy to under pin the participant companies business strategy & the specification of implementation plans
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