12 January 2011
England’s cricketers got off to a great start this year, winning the Ashes for the first time in 24 years in the land of Oz.
Their win brought a ray of Australian sunshine into our long and gloomy winter. It also started me thinking about how to score more success on the other side of the globe.
Australia is one of the few markets that has escaped the worst ravages of the recession. Consumers and businesses out there are still reasonably buoyant - that’s why UKTI is organising a mission there in late 2011. We think there will be lots of opportunities for East Midlands businesses willing to make the trip.
There’s never been a better time to do business with Australia, as it boasts an outstanding economic track record and a technology-hungry and sophisticated business and consumer base. Add to that a very similar language, culture, history and business practices, and you have outstanding opportunities for doing business.
Also on the other side of the world,Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia could be good countries to look at in 2011. These are growing economies with ever increasing numbers of consumers who want and can afford British quality design and products. People there are brand conscious, fashionable and interested in trying new things.
One local company exporting to those far eastern markets is The Highland Club, a Melton Mowbray knitwear firm who sell classic chunky winter knits to the Japanese. Arran-style sweaters are a very popular fashion item this year (or so I’m told!). In fact 95% of Highland Club’s sales are to Japan.
China and India are of course a massive opportunity for all of us in 2011. Both have huge infrastructure improvement programmes including new railways, airports and roads. All these project will require goods, services and expertise. With engineering and hi-tech manufacturing as two of our region’s main strengths, there are surely many opportunities for us in Asia. In fact, in the third quarter of 2010 East Midlands exports to Asia were already 28% higher than in the same period the previous year.
Sadly, the East Midlands fell behind other regions in manufactured goods export sales during 2010. But there’s no reason to feel gloomy. Hinckley engineering recycling and repair company Re-Ball Ltd have just confirmed a €1.7million order with Germany, showing why they won UKTI’s new exporter award. They’re a small company but they’re already talking about increasing their staff and feel very optimistic about 2011.
And Mercian Cycles of Derby increased their exports by an amazing 250% last year. Both these companies were helped by UKTI in the past.
I predict that we’ll continue to see more success in Asia, Africa and the Americas than in the nearer EU, due to the current economic climate. However The EU remains the largest market for UK goods - worth £90bn – so there are still plenty of opportunities for new companies given the competitive value of sterling.
Nappy New Year!!
One East Midlands product selling successfully across the globe, including Australia, is the Bambino Mio reusable nappy. It may not be an engineering product or a classic fashion item, but it is environmentally friendly, healthy and economic to use – and an increasingly popular choice for mums in 70 different countries.
In recognition of his work in promoting re-usable nappies and exporting so successfully, Managing Director Guy Schanschieff has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honour List. Well done Guy, you’re an inspiration to us all.
To find out more about forthcoming UKTI events for East Midlands businesses go to www.ukti.gov.uk/eastmidlands