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Midlands based manufacturing network Made in the Midlands is urging businesses to expand their export strategies and to start thinking global. Against the backdrop of David Cameron’s recent trip to India, the network is particularly encouraging its members and other Midlands companies to seek out export opportunities to BRICS countries and regions outside the European Union.
Made in the Midlands president John Faulkner points out some export benefits, stating “depending on the shipping density of your components the rewards are often quite attractive. Especially with emerging economies such as Brazil, it is a great time to seek out new opportunities. ” Although moving into export seems to be a natural progression for any business, he also suggests that “UK companies should only seek to enter the export market when they have exhausted opportunities on their own doorstep and if the investment in export can be justified.”
Many of the network’s members are already enjoying export success to countries outside the EU. Examples include Redditch based precision engineering manufacturer Samuel Taylor Limited (STL), who achieve 85% of their turnover through export. Although import duties and tariff codes can pose a challenge, in particular when it comes to the USA, STL’s Director Alastair Gordon argues “the great advantage with the USA is that it is a really big market. The technology we use is an advantage to us as it is generally at the cutting edge.” With regards to the UK market he adds “the only way to grow and prosper for small and medium enterprises is to export as there is a lack of critical mass within large parts of the UK manufacturing industries.”
Another local firm going global is Smethwick based protective case manufacturer Zero Cases. Counting countries such as China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia amongst their export destinations, the company’s UK plant manager Mike Dimmack stresses “one of the key benefits exporting to regions outside the Euro zone is that these countries do not see any restrictions in budget and pressure on reduction of government spending.” The company currently generates 35% of its total sales through export – a number which is expected to rise to 50% by the end of the year.
In the past five years the UK has seen its exports to BRICS countries more than doubling, increasing from £12.7bn in 2007 to £27.1bn in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, a report by the Marketing Birmingham Regional Observatory and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) revealed last year that only around 25% of businesses in the West Midlands export to overseas market, with nearly half of them primarily focusing on the local region.
Made in the Midlands (MIM) is a manufacturing business network, currently representing 260 local manufacturing firms. Its goal is to bring companies together and expand the manufacturing base in the West Midlands. MIM provides an opportunity for inter-trading, sharing best practice and sales leads through networking. In addition, the group provides a powerful voice for lobbying key public and private sector organisations.