Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

Business rates evaluation and rise in UK businesses

  • Be prepared: in April the government’s new business rates revaluation will come into effect for all businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. It’s the first revaluation in seven years, which is when the government adjusts the value of business rates to reflect changes in the property market. To find out if your rates will be changing, go to revaluation
  • The number of UK businesses has hit a record 5.5 million, according to official statistics from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Between 2010 and 2016, there has been an increase of a million more small businesses, 4,000 more medium-sized businesses and 900 more large businesses.

How to do a fire risk assessment

UK legislation states that every non-domestic building must have a fire risk assessment – that includes all business premises. Not having a fire risk assessment could mean facing prosecution or a very hefty fine – and, not least, the sobering prospect of being unprepared for the event of an actual fire.

The fire risk assessment should look not just at the building and grounds itself, but the contents and people inside, too: how many people are there, what activities take place in the building, are there enough escape routes, and so on? These things must be considered very carefully in the risk assessment to ensure everyone gets to a place of safety in the event of a fire.

The risk assessment should be reviewed regularly, as well as every time a change occurs to the building: for example, if a new dryer is bought, a new piece of machinery is installed, an office space is converted into a tea room, or if any building or conversion work takes place. The key thing to remember is that the fire risk assessment is a working document, meaning that it should be used on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It is not something that should be completed once and locked in a filing cabinet for a year or more and forgotten about.

If you’re not sure about doing a fire risk assessment yourself, you can choose a safe and reliable expert to do it for you.

The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has a wealth of information about how to complete a fire risk assessment, including a handy video introduction to the process, and how to choose an approved fire risk assessor. We also have a list of certified fire risk assessors who will be able to help you – simply go to and click ‘Find a Member’.

All our members are certified to show that they have the skills, knowledge and professionalism to help complete fire risk assessments, so there is no need to worry if the company you are choosing is up to the job or not.

We also have a short video called ‘Responsible For Fire Safety? | Fire Safety Explained Video’, which explains all of your responsibilities for fire safety, which is available on our YouTube channel,

Will Lloyd is technical manager at the Fire Industry Association (FIA), which is the largest trade association in the UK for fire safety professionals. A not-for-profit organisation, the FIA prides itself on raising standards for fire safety for the public though better education of those who work in the sector.

Why your business should celebrate the holidays

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.” Playing Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas loudly in the office while getting in the festive spirit, this line always sticks out. Why, you ask?

Traditionally, the season to be jolly is in fact the complete opposite for garment decorators – instead, it’s a time of year when business is typically at its quietest. The school and workwear orders have dried up and production is slowly ticking over.

Customers I chat to often call it ‘the nature of the industry’, citing seasonality and accepting it for what it is by planning their time off and holidays for Christmas and New Year (which of course I don’t begrudge, they work hard running their businesses).

But there is scope to make sure those machines are not sat still throughout the holidays. To keep your business ticking over, you need to get planning.

Mix it up

Have an open mind and try to mix up your marketing and test out things you perhaps would not when business is ticking over. Embrace it with an open mind and experiment – you pretty much have nothing to lose! The ideas that you test out in the quiet period can help make your business’s next year its most successful yet.

Toy around with those ideas that you parked on the shelf earlier in the year when you had to prioritise that rush job: test out innovative email and social media campaigns, as well as promotional offers, packs and bundles. Testing these ideas in the quiet period gives you time to check if they are sustainable and worth integrating in to your business’s marketing and online strategy.

Get creative

Not every garment decorator is focused on large volume orders and winning B2B customers. There are a number out there focused on more niche bespoke textiles. The Christmas period also presents these businesses with a chance to mix it up by focusing on testing new campaigns that make the most of the opportunity to produce bespoke products specifically for the festive period.

For inspiration, check out the likes of Etsy, Not On The High Street and Pinterest – there are no limits to what you can personalise!

One last thought

If you have read this and thought the festive market and its associated products are not quite for you, that’s fine. But do not accept seasonality: make sure your business is prepared for whatever the next year has ahead, whether it is buying a new machine, sourcing some new products or updating your website. Make sure December and the New Year are prosperous for both you and your business!

Andrew Langridge is from eTrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.

If you have a business question for any of our experts, email it to: [email protected]