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Medal maker's on to a winner; Manufacturer takes on the Chinese.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter mike.lockley@trinitymirror.com

AN entrepreneur has beaten the Chinese at their own game - by bringing the medal-making trade back to Birmingham.

And John Baines is already selling hundreds of thousands of the medallions each week. The school sports day market has proved particularly lucrative.

Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter once ruled the world, but, like so many UK industries, China stole the city's thunder.

John, who launched KT Labels - a school uniform labels business 20 years ago - is now fighting back thanks to an innovative new technique.

Using Epson ink from America, which takes three decades to fade, he can produce medals cheaper than firms behind the Bamboo Curtain. His Stirchley company in Birmingham has now employed two more workers to cope with the massive demand.

After only months of production, John is convinced the new venture has multi-million pound potential.

The proud Brummie said: "My motivation is simple - I am 65 and was raised in the industrial capital of the UK. The reason China beat us was mainly on price. People were prepared to go for the cheapest.

"Well, I'm making them cheaper. I'm beating the Chinese at their own game - and their own game is cost."

John has devised a way of labelling metal - and the metal can be coloured to customers' specifications.

He said: "When the UK got the Olympics five years, the demand for medals for school sports increased dramatically and I got into the trophy trade.

"There were a lot of established companies, but I had the IT skills and came up with a good way of marking and engraving.

"I use a material that can be stuck onto a medal like a transfer.

I make intelligent labels that are better and quicker and cheaper.

"In this country, there are six major distributors which supply the shops.

"They all buy their stock from China, but it can sometimes take six weeks to arrive, I can provide them with medals within days. You can imagine their reaction? I can change the colour of the medal. I call it Chameleon Metal."

John already dominates the market when it comes to labels for school uniforms. His 3,000-strong client list includes companies in Russia, America and South Africa.

What's more, every school uniform shop in the country has one of his "Combination Printers" and uses his material.

I'm making them cheaper. I'm beating the Chinese at their own game

CAPTION(S):

| John Baines, managing director of KT labels in Stirchley, Birmingham.

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 3, 2017
Words:417
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