Yorkshire exporters urged to take advantage of rising demand for ‘brand Britain’

A panel of seasoned Yorkshire exporters shared experiences and tips on tackling new markets with fledgling overseas traders at an event organised by ExportExchange in Harrogate this week.

With the fall in the value of Sterling fuelling a growth in overseas demand for British products, new exporters at the event were encouraged by a raft of success stories and given candid advice from regional businesses experienced in overseas trade, including Taylors of Harrogate and Leeds-based fish and chip frying equipment supplier, Hopkins.

The event, held at Taylors’ Harrogate head office, explored the pros and cons of choosing to use  agents or distributors or to go down the direct sales route, and looked at how a business can assess which is the best option when exploring new markets.

Garry Nield, international director for Taylors of Harrogate, which has significantly grown its overseas sales in recent years, explained how the market for British tea is flourishing and helping the £164m turnover business to sell its iconic Yorkshire Tea brand into English-speaking countries, including Australia, the US and Canada.

There is also a growing interest in tea in Europe, said Mr Nield. “It’s seen as a healthier alternative to coffee and our Taylors Tea brand is also finding new markets in diverse countries as far afield as Poland, Bahrain and the Philippines, all of which we have recently entered.”

He went on to explain why Taylors generally opts to use a distributor, which buys and then distributes the products, for export sales. “We want a long-term partner who will participate in the growth of the brand so in most cases it makes sense for us to find a good distributor.  However, this is not always the case and in some territories, such as the Middle East, we’ve instead chosen to work with an agent covering multiple markets, enabling us to keep a closer eye on performance,” said Mr Nield.

Victoria Hopkins, managing director of Hopkins, which sells its fish and chip frying ranges and other catering equipment across the world, largely to English speaking countries, warned that it was vital to carry out adequate due diligence on any prospective partner whether as a joint venture, an agent or a distributor. Hopkins is currently exploring both the the US and Canadian markets and has approvals for both.

Simon Riley director of Leeds-based Quality Bearings Online, and an ExportExchange patron, also spoke at the event. Established six years ago, Quality Bearings Online describes itself as an ‘accidental exporter’ whose products were initially found through organic search by customers around the world.  Recognising the global potential, the company now promotes itself via Google advertisements to English and Spanish-speaking countries worldwide and over the last three years it has seen huge growth in its exports which now account for 85% of sales.

Bradford bicycle manufacturer Pennine Cycles’ Sandra Corcoran underlined that British goods are synonymous with high quality. “Being British is a big selling point for us and Yorkshire is an important brand too,” she said. Pennine Cycles manufactures bespoke cycle frames and the business has attracted customers from around the world, including the US and Switzerland.

ExportExchange organises a series of quarterly events bringing experienced and would-be exporters together, to inform on key issues and to provide interaction between ‘patrons’, or experienced exporters, and businesses. The events are also designed to help businesses navigate the range of overseas trade resources available regionally.

More information on Exporting for Growth and details of how to apply for funding are available on the ExportExchange website at www.exportexchange.co.uk/exporting-for-growth-in-yorkshire-and-the-humber