Nearly 300 companies receive advice and support at flagship event.
UK Trade and Investment’s biggest West Midlands export event to date has been hailed a huge success after almost 300 businesses toured the world in a day.
Explore Export, UKTI’s flagship Export Week event, saw companies from across the region gain invaluable advice as they sought to step on to the export ladder for the first time or to expand their global reach.
Advisers from more than 60 countries flew in for the day-long event, which was held at The Vox Conference Centre on Thursday, and more than 1,200 meetings took place as businesses sought advice on how to start trading with countries in Africa, Australasia, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Christine Hamilton, acting regional director of UKTI West Midlands, said companies from across the region are already making huge headway overseas, with latest figures showing that exports by West Midlands businesses grew by 3% to £29.2 billion in the annual period to June 2015, making it the third largest exporting region in the UK.
But there were plenty of opportunities yet that businesses could tap into because of the demand for UK products and services. She said, “It was heartening to see so many businesses, from sole traders to large enterprises, visiting the event and taking advantage of the experts’ knowledge of their local markets. This region is particularly strong at exporting machinery and transport, and manufactured goods but we saw businesses from a multitude of sectors, including food and drink, medical and creative, looking for our help in finding new opportunities overseas.
“Through our various programmes, UKTI West Midlands has helped almost 3,000 companies in the last three years alone to win over £1.7 billion in overseas sales. With UK goods and services in demand across the world, there are certainly many more opportunities out there for our businesses to widen their reach.”
Lara Kelly, of Warwickshire-based Hum Partnership, a small start-up company that designs and makes colourful plant pots, was looking for advice on how to start exporting to North America, South Africa, and the Netherlands. She said: “We are trying to make as many contacts as we can and are attending events like this so we can explore new markets. We’ve just started exporting and have had sales in Ireland and Nigeria and next year we will be going to Switzerland, German and Austria. It’s exciting.”
To coincide with Export Week, a new Government-backed five-year campaign has been launched to get 100,000 more UK businesses exporting by 2020.
The Exporting is GREAT roadshow – a 32-tonne truck – will visit five West Midlands towns and cities next week (November 16th-20th), so that businesses can drop in to get 1-to-1 advice from UKTI international trade and digital advisers. Google will also be offering 30-minute consultations for delegates looking at their ‘igital strategy.
Santander, which has created a suite of international solutions to help businesses, will also be offering advice to aspiring exporters.
Mike Gahir – Regional International Director, Midlands and Wales Division, Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking, said: “International trading continues to be a key, strategic growth strategy for UK businesses as well as all stakeholders in the UK economy. It is important that businesses look to explore opportunities around exporting as, managed correctly, it can be hugely beneficial to their long-term growth aspirations.
“However, thinking about taking your business abroad, whether it be car parts or food and drink, can seem like a daunting process. Aside from being at several UKTI Exporting is GREAT events and being on board the Export Hub truck, we’ll have a stand at the on 20th November at West Bromwich Albion FC, and look forward to seeing West Midlands businesses there.”
The truck will be stationed at Lichfield Road Industrial Estate, Tamworth, Staffordshire, on Monday, November 16th; LG Harris in Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, Worcesterhsire, on Tuesday, November 17th; Millennium Point, Birmingham, on Wednesday, November 18th; Welcome Break services, M54 Telford, Shropshire, on Thursday, November 19th; and West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns ground, West Bromwich, Friday, November 20th. Businesses attend between 11am and 2pm on any day.
For more details about the Exporting is GREAT roadshow, visit www.greatroadshow.eventbrite.com