McGavigan: A World Leader In Decorative Plastics

“Our strategy revolves around maintaining a stable business base from which to build, and our strong point is without a doubt our relationship with our customers.”

Steve Mathers, John McGavigan Limited – Director 

The history of this company is a long one. The company was originally formed in 1861 by the McGavigan family, where from its facilities in Glasgow Scotland it supplied a range of screen printed products, ranging from signage and religious material, through to the 1970s where it had developed a strong reputation for supplying a wide range of printed products to the automotive and electronics industries worldwide.

Until 1994 McGavigan developed a number of new and exciting processes for decorating plastics for the growing mobile telecommunications sector.

In 2000 the company focussed its innovation and manufacturing resources on expanding its automotive interests, developing new methods of precision thermoforming of printed polymer materials. As a result McGavigan grew its reputation and market for high impact decorated plastic components typically seen in vehicle instrument clusters, interior trim components and high specification in-mold decorated radio and heater control assemblies.

In 2006 McGavigan set up its first production facility China in order to broaden accessibility within the increasingly important Asian regions. There is an important trend of innovative applications within the decorative and functional plastics markets in Asia, with Japan especially having an important central role to play in the future given its long history
in decoration. Having invested time to develop some local relationships and to gain a stronger understanding of how Japanese clients work, opening an office was a logical next step.

“Establishing a local presence [in Japan] is essential to our success, ” says Steve Mathers. “We are still at a relatively early stage of entry, and we are utilising the services of Business Link Japan to help us with this process,” he says, “but reaction to date has been positive in terms of the technology and capability we offer.” “As with any venture, success is built on capability, trust and the value you can bring to your client,” he comments.

The Scotland based company has combined market research, prospecting and establishment of a local office into one phase, as they see a need to make a tangible commitment to the market which is evident to our prospective Japanese clients. In doing so they are able to extend and build upon previously developed relationships with clients in Japan, and to hopefully advance timing to secure new programmes in the market.

Mathers’ advice to UK companies wishing to enter the Japanese market is to calibrate expectations. It may take more time than perhaps other markets, but its sustainability over time is often greater. It is important to look at Japan and the supply chain within as a medium term investment. He recommends spending time trying to understand the culture of doing business as the protocol is different and to succeed an overseas business needs to recognise and work within these cultural sensitivities. He believes the support of local staff is key to this.


For more insight into the manufacturing industry in Japan, please see our dedicated manufacturing sector page.

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