East Anglia: Region’s SMEs urged to rise to the export challenge

LEADERS from more than 200 firms from across the East of England gathered at an event in Newmarket to discuss how they can play their part in increasing exporting within the region’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.

With a growth in exports of 20% last year the East of England remains the UK’s second fastest growing exporting region but, according to UK Trade & Investment regional director Liz Basing, more local firms need to rise to the export challenge if the region and the wider UK is to continue to succeed internationally.

UKTI chief executive Nick Baird told guests that, out of around 210,000 businesses registered in the region, just 8,000 are exporters of goods.

“Smaller companies can succeed brilliantly in the big exporting world, provided the product and the work done to design and support their export strategy are right,” he said.

“UKTI is instrumental in helping many SMEs regionally and nationally make a start in export and we will continue to develop our offering to ensure it is adapted to the styles of business.


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“We all know that the opportunities are there in fast growing markets like China. At the same time sales to more accessible markets like Europe and the US continue to be important particularly to novice exporters.”

During the event, delegates heard from successful exporters including The Cambridge Satchel company, St Ives- based Le Mark Group and Norwich-based Syfer Technologies who all provided a fascinating insight in to how SMEs can build a thriving international business.

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Commercial officers from British Embassies and consulates across Europe were also on hand to provide advice and guidance for companies as to how to build their export business for any of the 24 markets represented.

The event was a great success with attendees, such as Chris Oliver, financial director of waste management company Sackers Recycling in Ipswich, who was able to obtain valuable insights and forge new contacts for his business’s North European export plans.

“The biggest potential market for our waste-to-fuel innovation is not the UK but European countries such as Holland, so it is crucial that we get it right. Today has certainly been very useful for this,” he said.

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