What do you think Germany’s unique selling point — USP — is?
Most of us would think of automotive technology, dependable white goods or banking. Foodies might mention wine or wurst.
Angela Merkel — and she should know — says it’s:
Airtight windows. No other country can build such airtight and beautiful windows.
That’s what ‘defines’ Germany for her.
They triple-glaze there.
And, soon, that technik could arrive on our shores.
The Guardian reports that a number of Bavarian SMEs are currently weighing up whether they should begin trading in the UK. We’d be getting not only window installers but also carpenters, plumbers and electricians. It’d be Auf Wiedersehen, Pet in reverse.
In November 2013, Ewald Gilbert Denzler, export manager for Bayern Handwerk International (the trade association of 853,000 Bavarians), organised a conference for mittlestand (SMEs) exploring an expanding British market.
What follows are German impressions of working in Britain.
- A ‘phenomenal housing boom’.
- Opportunities in exploiting the Green Deal initiative.
- Less competition with regard to window and green technology.
- The certainty of making ‘a lot of money’.
- The UK is ‘much more fun than Bavaria’.
- Britain is a ‘more relaxed and friendly’ nation.
- ‘Crazy’ health and safety laws.
- London is ‘too expensive’.
- Understanding the need for tea breaks for British employees.
- Interpreting British understatement, where ‘a bit of an issue’ means ‘big problem’.
I’m of two minds about this:
1/ With regard to the windows, Germans — and their British customers — would have to ensure that they would be compatible with brick. Ours have a different composition to German brick. Our Victorian — and older — properties were built to breathe. These windows might be too air-tight, possibly causing damp.
2/ Are German subsidiaries of these companies going to be registered in the UK? Even if they are, will they be pumping money back into our economy or will everything go back to their German HQ?
3/ Wouldn’t it be better if British companies went to Germany to earn master craftsman qualifications in this technology, windows or otherwise? Germany has already trained a number of Chinese in automotive technology; they now have the requisite specialist qualifications. Apparently, our people would need to learn German first to participate in a similar scheme oriented to building construction. Well, if the Chinese can, surely, we can, too?
One to watch.