Graham Vincent

Pilot scheme for tailored trade advice to launch in Yorkshire and the Humber

Every mid-sized business in the country will be offered tailored trade advice and an intensive programme of support to help them start exporting or break into new markets, Trade Minister Lord Livingston announced today.

Lord Livingston will personally write to all the UK’s 8,900 mid-sized businesses by this summer to ask them if they would like trade support from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

A pilot study is due to start next month in Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as the South East and finish by early Spring. This will be followed by a full national roll out.

Evidence shows that exporters do better with UKTI’s help and on average mid-sized businesses can increase their sales by £1.8 million.

Mid-sized businesses are vital to the Government’s long-term economic plan to reduce the deficit and create more jobs. The CBI estimates that, if they reach their full potential, it would be worth £20 to £50 billion to the UK economy.

Currently mid-sized businesses make up just 0.5% of all businesses but contribute around a fifth of employment and turnover in the UK.

However only 17% of UK mid-sized businesses generate revenues outside of the EU compared to 25% in Germany and 30% in Italy.

Speaking ahead of the Meet the Mittelstand conference in Staffordshire, which is bringing successful German companies to Britain so UK companies can hear about their strategies for success, Lord Livingston said: “Mid-sized businesses have the potential to be economic powerhouses for the UK economy, creating jobs and growth for all regions of the UK.

“Their success is dependant on expanding beyond domestic markets so we will be making personal contact with all mid-sized businesses to find out what we can do to help them go up a gear and compete with the best the rest of the world has to offer.

“Businesses excel with UKTI’s support and we want to make sure that they are not just trading abroad, but thriving there.”

Bespoke trade advice will then be given to every business that wants assistance to sell their products and services overseas by April next year.

That can include support from UKTI market and sector experts based both in the UK and overseas – across 160 locations in 111 countries.

Mark Robson, UKTI regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, welcomes the programme, and is urging local businesses to get on board. He commented: “We have a diverse business community across Yorkshire and the Humber, and that includes a good number of ambitious and successful MSBs in a wide variety of sectors that have what it takes to go further and deeper into global markets – whether through securing a footing in new countries or regions, or through expanding or strengthening an existing overseas operation.

“We’re here to help, and we have dedicated professional advisers with years of experience in helping similar like-minded businesses to achieve success.”

Cottingham-based Swift Group, a leading manufacturer of caravans, motorhomes and static holiday homes, is one such mid-sized business that is already working with UKTI.

Commercial director Nick Page and his team are using support from UKTI Y&H to explore opportunities in Europe, Australasia, the US and China.

The company has commissioned research via the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), which enables companies to use the services of trade teams linked to embassies, high commissions and consulates across the world.

Nick explained: “The OMIS reports provide fantastic information, intelligence and insight on a given market, but what has really made a difference is the opportunity to tap into the expertise and presence of officials on the ground.

“If an embassy official picks up the phone to company x, it carries far more weight than ‘Nick from East Yorkshire’, and it opens doors that we simply could not access. It is a fantastic service that I would wholeheartedly urge others to embrace.”

Alexander Ehmann, deputy director of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), added: “Building a sustainable recovery means improving the UK’s export performance.

“Doing business abroad will always involve risk, particularly in developing markets, so companies want to have as much information as possible before diving in.

“IoD members who have used UKTI’s services give them a good rating and we welcome the decision to expand the support they provide to mid-sized firms.”

Companies interested in learning more about exporting opportunities should contact UKTI at www.ukti.gov.uk/midsizedbusiness.

UKTI is also raising awareness of its services with smaller companies through a new national marketing campaign, Exporting is GREAT, which aims to generate 3,000 appointments for small firms with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) advisers by April 2014 and drive £1.2 billion in export revenue from the leads it generates.

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