Bradford leading the way for UK exports

FedEx report reveals Britain's lesser known “export epicentres” with highest rates of overseas trade

The majority of small firms in the UK are doing business overseas with regional cities such as Bradford, Leeds and Southampton leading the way when it comes to international trade.

The findings, revealed in a new report from FedEx Express using a survey of 2,500 small and medium enterprises, identified the country’s lesser known “export epicentres” and found Bradford to have the highest export rates with 86% of small businesses in the area trading internationally.

According to the UK Export Expicentres report, small and medium businesses in cities such as Leicester, Oxford and Leeds are exceeding exports expectations with over three quarters trading at higher levels than larger cities such as London and Manchester.

Exporting confidence was also found to have risen across the UK with 94% of small and medium enterprises said to be optimistic about the year ahead with three quarters of respondents expecting export sales to increase over 2015 “and beyond”.

Despite exports growth, more than a third of the regional businesses surveyed said they require more support on a local level to achieve international expansion.

Export rates across British cities are outlined in the table below:

Export epicentres

Speaking to Growing Business, FedEx Express UK sales managing director, Martin Davidian, said the report highlights “fascinating information” about UK exports:

“One of the key messages coming through is that the British brand is what gives small and medium businesses the competitive element, […] industrial heritage and culture are being used by regional businesses to their advantage.

“One of the key things we’ve learnt is that small businesses are time-starved, they have to wear many hats, so often the issue is where do they actually go for advice [with exports]. Businesses need to take advantage of opportunities through local Chambers of Commerce, UKTI and the FedEx small business portal.”

With regards to export markets, Davidian added: “70% to 80% of those surveyed often start exporting in Europe and go from there, you often think that the US and Canada would be key export targets but actually only 22% [of respondents] are exporting in those markets.”

FedEx Express vice president of Northern Europe Operations, Trevor Hoyle, commented:

“Now is the time to encourage UK small and medium-sized enterprises to embrace their regional identities when building global relationships. This research has unveiled some fascinating insights into how regional self-perception and business optimism can be linked.

“Although challenges still remain for some companies in doing business abroad, they can be overcome by having access to the right support, expertise and network.”

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