In an uncertain market, with global supply chain volatility, raw materials shortages, and inflationary pressures the combined strengths of a new name in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies offers many benefits to manufacturers.

Food and beverage PPE specialist Needlers and heavy industry PPE specialist Liscombe have joined RS as part of one organisation, the RS Group. Together, these well-established supplies distributors make up RS Safety Solutions.

What does this merger mean for customers of the three companies?

While it may be a new name, the creation of the RS Safety Solutions provides all organisations, whether they previously bought from RS, Needlers, Liscombe or are new to the business, with access to a PPE proposition that combines all the strengths of the constituent firms.

This includes, for example, the world-class customer service that RS is renowned for as well as the industry expertise offered by Needlers and Liscombe, who between them have supported the PPE needs of businesses including Jaguar Land Rover, Bakkavor, Greencore and Avara Foods. With the former, this means a trusted supplier who goes far beyond the minimum legal compliance. With the latter, it looks like an experienced supplier who can help manufacturers to reduce health and safety risks within their workplaces.

There’s more, too. We’ve asked employees from RS, Needlers and Liscombe to share what difference they think the creation of RS Safety Solutions makes to their customers.

Trusted expert suppliers
“If I had to described Needlers in three words, I’d say value, honest and trustworthy,” says Toni Evans, Customer Service Co-ordinator at Needlers. “We have to develop that trust with our customers and retain it, because if you haven’t got your gloves, your overshoes, your facemask when you need it, that means production stops and that is costly. We can’t let people down.

“The customer has to have confidence in us having the right stock, so they’re never left high and dry and exposed to possible fines from their customers for contract breaches.

“Our PPE proposition is now even stronger as being part of RS Safety Solutions increases the knowledge and experience within our department and the business overall. It’s going to grow and mean that we have a bigger network of availability for our customers.”

Customer Service Manager Janine Lesley agrees. “For us and for the customer, Needlers being part of RS Safety Solutions is absolutely fantastic.

“Our product range is much better and the wealth of knowledge between the businesses, especially with Liscombe onboard, is outstanding. The depth of expertise we’re able to share with customers is outstanding.

“The knowledge and expertise that Needlers and Liscombe bring to RS Safety Solutions really helps to strengthen the customer proposition.”

Added value
These sentiments are echoed by Carly Pile, Purchasing Manager at Liscombe. “Customers keep coming back to Liscombe because of the expertise we have. We have a lot of long-serving staff members who’ve been with the business for fifteen years or more, so we’ve a huge amount of knowledge about PPE and the industry that we service.

“Sometimes customers know exactly what they want but sometimes they don’t know which product would suit best. That’s where we come in, to provide that expertise and knowledge.”

Being part of the RS Group adds value to this offering. “Going from a family-owned business to a FTSE 100 company is a huge leap,” says Pile, “but it’s exciting.

“We can see the advantages of some changes already. As an example, with some of our suppliers, we’re purchasing combined quantities now, so we’ve gone back to them and been able to renegotiate commercial terms. We’ve also been able to bring on brands that we didn’t have a relationship with before.

“This has been really beneficial to Liscombe customers”

Strong range of services
Dave Harvey, Sales Manager at Needlers, offers another perspective on the customer benefits.

“Having Needlers, Liscombe and RS together offers customers security,” he says. “It offers them the knowledge that we’re an even stronger company than we were before and that we can offer them better pricing, diversity of products and better support across different categories, especially as I know RS do a lot with regards to added value partnerships.

“The food and beverage industry is quite price driven, so it’s really good for us to be able to utilise some of the RS facilities to develop stronger partnerships with customers and a better experience for them.”

“Price is important,” agrees Rob Russell, PPE Business Unit Sales Director at RS Safety Solutions, “but, in a world where supply chains are not without their challenges, we’re seeing that organisations want a partner that understands other factors within the business too.

“They want a supplier that meets accreditation and compliance requirements but also ticks all the boxes surrounding sustainability, cost reduction and rationalisation.

“From my years at Needlers, I know that we understand what’s important to our customers so we’ll never leave them without those showstopper products that could result in production downtime.

“Now we’re part of the RS Group, we have global backing and offer a more complete solution to all customers.”

Credible safety solutions
Emma Botfield, UK and Ireland Managing Director for RS, shares Harvey’s view on the importance of offering services. “Our credibility and expertise helping make the right choice and provide a solution that is sustainable for them and will make a difference.”

“We’ve moved to being the RS Group. We’ve bought together the Needlers, Liscombe and RS brands to create RS Safety Solutions that benefits all our customers.”

For more information on RS Safety Solutions, visit here