Small UK businesses exporting to Europe saw revenues from the Continent increase by six per cent in 2015, according to new figures from the Barclays? Business Abroad Index.
Germany and France accounted for the biggest share of UK SME exports, while payments from Spain increased the most, with a 27 per cent rise compared to 2014. Small British firms also saw increased revenues from the US and China, according to the lender’s records on payment flows.
Steve Childs, head of international business banking at Barclays, said: Long-standing relationships remain between UK businesses and European trading hubs such as Germany and France, along with the US as the top export destinations. Despite the recent slowdown in China’s economic growth, there are still huge export opportunities for UK producers.
A recent report by insurer RSA found that the reliance of small UK firms on European countries as trading partners put such companies at risk over the prospect of a Brexit.
Mark Sismey-Durrant, the CEO of Hampshire Trust Bank, said: Political uncertainty could be dampening business appetite for growth and impacting on investment plans, with the EU vote happening perhaps as soon as June this year.
Yet Childs emphasised the opportunities available for small UK firm owners willing to do the necessary research. British products and services are in demand, and exploring overseas avenues delivers huge growth potential, he said.
the first port of call when considering exporting is identifying a target market and researching it thoroughly; learning the culture, economic and political environment, customs, market, how business is conducted and most importantly, the competition. Deciphering how a product should be sold direct from the UK or using distributors is also an important first step, as well as planning how a product can be promoted overseas, he added.
The Barclays research showed that small British firms in the manufacturing and retail industries saw the highest levels of export growth in 2015, with the export revenues of small retailers up 36 per cent.
The government announced plans in December to boost the value of British exports to 1tn by 2020 while Barclays recently announced plans to help 15, 000 SMEs to export in the next five years.
Thinking of joining the small UK businesses exporting to Europe? don’t miss our guide to the top ten must-dos for first time overseas sellers.