Companies from across the West Midlands gathered in Coventry to learn how to achieve international business success. The Global Opportunities Summit at Ansty Park headlined UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) West Midlands’ Exporting is GREAT Week of events and was aimed at inspiring the next generation of new exporters from the region.
UKTI CEO Catherine Raines, who addressed businesses at the event, explained:
“Exporting is GREAT Week is the perfect time to inspire UK companies to take advantage of the world of opportunity overseas and the global demand for UK products, skills and expertise. If we can inspire and support more companies to export, we can make a big difference to jobs, growth and the economy.
“We launched Exporting is GREAT last November and already over 20,000 applications to live export opportunities on exportingisgreat.gov.uk have been received. But I want even more UK businesses to raise their sights, to look to the horizon and to see a world of opportunity out there, so we can achieve government’s aim of to supporting 100,000 additional UK businesses to export by 2020.”
Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bikes, told attendees how the company has grown and now sells 44,000 bikes per year to 45 countries. 40% of its exports are to Asia-Pacific countries, with 30% to Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“It’s an exciting time for Brompton Bikes as we continue to grow our market overseas. We have 10 flagship Brompton Junction stores across the world and have recently opened an office in New York, which sells directly to dealers in the USA.
“We also opened an office in Hong Kong earlier this year and have set up a distribution partner in Turkey. With strategic planning, a bit of risk-taking and hard work, anything is possible.”
Award-winning entrepreneur Fraser Doherty, who founded his business, SuperJam, at the age of 14, added:
“Right from the beginning, I wanted to grow SuperJam into a global brand. The catalyst was finding a partner in South Korea who showed us how our product could be adapted to suit local tastes.
“They used our jams in Korean buns and rice cakes, which took us from an order for a few jars to a whole lorry load. We went on a UKTI trade mission to Seoul in 2014 and we have been working to put SuperJam on retail shelves in new countries ever since. Our hard work is paying off and you'll now find SuperJam in six countries worldwide. We're hoping to increase that by adding USA by 2017.”
Coventry-based Mum’s Masala founder Narinder Gill attended the 2015 Global Opportunities Summit. He started his healthy curry base sauce business at his kitchen table, using his wife’s recipes that had been passed down from generations.
Since then, the 52-year-old Westward Heath entrepreneur – a former client business manager for Vodafone – has gone on to develop the brand and has outsourced the manufacturing to a Birmingham-based professional food manufacturer, which now makes the products for him. The first sauces went to market in December 2014 and he now supplies to Morrison’s, Holland & Barrett, Cost Cutter and they have already won several awards. Earlier this year, he exported the first 1,500 bottles of his mild, medium and hot sauces to a distributor in Canada. He said:
“It’s been a real whirlwind these past few months. We are still a very new company but our products are already very well received as it’s a healthier alternative to what’s on the market today and because I decided to outsource the production to an established manufacturer that helped us when we looked for our first retail customers.
“UKTI has been hugely helpful in getting us on the exporting ladder and now I’m really keen to see what else we can achieve.”