High hopes for boost to trade in the East following Export Week

Business leaders from the East of England taking part in face-to-face meetings at the ExploreExport

Business leaders from the East of England taking part in face-to-face meetings at the ExploreExport event at Newmarket Racecourse. - Credit: Archant

Businesses from across Suffolk Essex have turned out in force this week at a series of events designed to help them grow sales overseas.

The national Export Week initiative, which ended today, began in the East of England with the ExploreExport event at Newmarket Racecourse, which highlighted opportunities in more than 60 countries.

The event also coincided with the launch of a new five-year Government-backed campaign, Exporting is GREAT, which is being spearheaded by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and will present real-time export opportunities for which businesses can apply instantly online.

Among those attending ExploreExport was Nick Preston, head of sales and marketing at Bury St Edmunds-based Trace Me Luggage Tracker, who met with representatives from eight different countries.

“The one-to-one meetings proved invaluable,” he said. “I received very relevant and specific information which I would not otherwise have been able to elicit from my own research.

“In one instance, with a country I had assumed was a relevant target, it soon became apparent that the structure of this country’s market and the ease of doing business immediately eliminated it from our target list. This has saved me much time and expense.

“For other territories, I am already receiving relevant contact names which is the link I was seeking with which to begin sales and potential distribution avenues.”

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Three countries the company will now be exploring following the event are Taiwan, Colombia and Mexico. “I’d marked these as peripheral to our immediate targets,” added Nick. “However, as a result of certain key information I learnt from the respective UKTI representatives, they have now become very attractive markets for us.”

China attracted a lot of interest at the event, where the China-Britain Business Council was represented by director Chris Cotton.

“Our advice to companies is not to think of China as one market,” he said. “It has 40 cities with a population of more than one million people and the dynamics, wealth and tastes vary by province and city, a bit like in Europe.

“The consumption driven economy also suits this region’s strengths, such as with financial & professional services, healthcare, education, and advanced engineering.”

Other local events during Export Week included a masterclass on finding and managing agents or distributors, at Braxted Park, near Witham, and a masterclass on exporting to Germany, the UK’s biggest export market, at the Holiday Inn in Ipswich.

UKTI East regional director Alan Pain believes that Exporting is GREAT will have a huge impact on exporting in this region. “This is the first time we’ve seen ads about exporting on mainstream TV and it’s also a whole Government, not just UKTI effort, so companies should become more aware of the opportunities,” he said.

“It’s great that the launch has coincided with out biggest event of the year, with ExploreExport being followed by a week of meetings and seminars. We’ve got some good companies in this region exporting and even more that could be exporting.”

The Exporting is GREAT platform will go live with hundreds of business opportunities, which will be available at www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk. Around 1,000 more will come online each month. The campaign also includes a year-long roadshow which due to come to this region in May next year.