Plymouth firm lands £40k contract from mission to China


By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor, Plymouth Herald

 THE boss of a Plymouth language school has returned from a 26-day mission to China – on which he secured £40,000 of business.

Neil Pick (inset), the chief executive of Mutley Plain-based Tellus Group, also made key contacts and shored up vital business arrangements during his trip, part of an on-going bid to bring in £1million of business a year by 2019.

He is planning a further, shorter, visit in March, but said the highlight of this trip, his second to China, was securing a deal that will see 40 Chinese schoolchildren spend a week in Plymouth and a week in Portsmouth in February, living with host families and spending money in the city economy.

The youngsters, aged between 14 and 17, will learn English and enjoy Sherlock Holmes-themed activities, including a trip to Dartmoor and another to London’s Baker Street.

Mr Pick, who has been re-reading the adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary sleuth, said the contract resulted from a dinner meeting with representatives of a middle school in Beijing, and stressed the importance of visiting China in person in order to reap the business rewards.

“Me being there was a major factor,” he said. “In China relationships and trust are very important. That’s the same around the world, of course, but there’s even more emphasis on them there.”

Mr Pick also visited existing business contacts and forged new ones as part of a British Council China-organised tour.

The UK Summer School Programme China Road Show took in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Shenzhen.

Mr Pick also visited schools and contacts in Nanjing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Kunming.

The Summer School Road Show was organised by the British Council China to promote UK summer young learner programmes in the UK.

Mr Pick said being able to discuss matters face-to-face, with the help of Tellus’ native worker in China, Yu Xia, was important.

“You can assume China is like any market, but it’s not,” he said. “It has its own problems and you have to understand that and work with the people.  “The Chinese logic is very different, and you have to learn that.

“But like any market, if you want to be successful you have to understand it and adjust your product to fit.

“And you also need to adjust your behaviour. They have a different way of working and won’t adjust for you, so you have to adjust for them.”

Mr Pick’s first visit to China, last December, saw him tour nine cities, covered thousands of miles and spent about 120 hours in a car or aeroplane during a four-week trip.

He even appeared on Chinese television. Tellus has a plan to bring “hundreds” of Chinese students to visit the UK, with the aim of attracting £1million in business to Plymouth and Portsmouth a year by 2019.

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