Dene Jones, Regional Director for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking in the East Midlands, explains how businesses in the region can make the most of the opportunities for growth through exporting at a time of widespread economic uncertainty.
Ongoing political and economic uncertainty is making it difficult for many companies to plan future investment in their businesses. In times like these, it’s important that companies consider all of their options for growth, identifying the right strategies to maximise their potential.
The competitive value of the pound and the global strength of ‘Brand Britain’ has driven a huge demand for British products abroad, with exports from the East Midlands totalling £33.4bn in 2017, an increase of 12% on 2016.
The latest Lloyds Bank Business in Britain report shows that many firms in the East Midlands are already making the most of the rich opportunities overseas, with more than a third of East Midlands businesses surveyed already exporting, above the average for the UK as a whole.
Encouragingly, more than a third of the region’s exporters surveyed expected to experience growth in their international sales in the coming six months. A number of East Midlands businesses, such as cheese manufacturer Long Clawson Dairy, have already seen their revenues soar through exporting activity.
The business purchased new machinery and extended its Melton Mowbray manufacturing site with support from Lloyds Bank earlier this year following an increase in demand from North American customers.
However, while exporting can help businesses achieve significant growth, it does expose firms to greater risk.
Before trading overseas, it’s vital to thoroughly research new markets, build relationships with buyers and distributors, and gain insight into the tastes, trends, and demands of international customers.
It’s this kind of knowledge that is integral to a firm’s success overseas, and is why we launched our International Trade Portal, which helps companies take the first steps to exporting by providing them with insight into foreign markets.
It’s also essential that exporters have access to finance to fuel their activity and the tools to manage it, whether it’s their first time operating internationally or they looking to grow their operations abroad.
When trading in different currencies, solutions to help process regular foreign transactions can help mitigate the effect of fluctuations in exchange rates and there are also tools to help minimise the implications of trading across time-zones and managing late payments.
Combining specialist exporting solutions with financial products such as invoice finance or asset-based lending to help release excess working capital can be a highly effective way to free up funds to turbo charge international growth.
Although wider economic uncertainty looks set to continue, businesses in the East Midlands shouldn’t wait to speak to a trusted businesses partner to get support guidance on how they can best implement their strategies for success.
We look forward to seeing more and more East Midlands firms capitalise on opportunities for growth overseas.