Export boom ends 2020 on a positive note for manufacturer

A Midlands manufacturer has reported a substantial leap in global trade, with overseas sales now accounting for a fifth of its annual turnover.

Fabweld Steel Products, the Telford-based designer and manufacturer of access covers and other fabricated steel products for the construction industry, says exports rose by nearly 250% this year despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of clarity over the future of trade deals after Brexit.

The increase from six per cent in 2019 to 20 per cent in 2020 follows a campaign by FSP to grow the overseas side of its business.

Germany remains the firm’s biggest market outside the UK, closely followed by France, with Israel becoming a new market for FSP products in 2020.

The firm’s FAB TOP and FAB PAVE covers were also shipped to Sweden and Malta for the first time this year.

Managing firector Richard Hilton said the export increase was positive news in a year when coronavirus had dominated the business landscape.

“To have increased our export sales by nearly 250% in a year when we had to rapidly adapt our working practices is a massive achievement and testament to the hard work of our team,” he said.

“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic we responded quickly and, with flexibility, continued to manufacture and meet our export goals. A weak pound has helped us to compete on a level footing with cheaper markets but where we really gain an advantage is with our in-house technical knowledge and facilities.

“For the German market we took an existing product and improved the design to make manufacturing efficient and reduce the cost. This is what we specialise in and do for all our partners and clients and this must continue for us to survive and thrive.”

Hilton said FSP had focused on increasing its exports after Britain voted to the leave the EU.

He added: “We will still be doing business with EU countries where we have a good reputation and established contacts and suppliers over the years. But the uncertainty over the shape of Britain’s future trade relationships gave additional weight to our decision to explore new markets and future proof the business.

“The hard work has paid off and we’ll be aiming for even further growth in 2021 and beyond.”