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Over half (53%) of respondents that reported an increase in sales turnover within the past six months, and are forecasting increases to turnover in the next six months, are already exporting or plan to start exporting. In addition, despite the ongoing instability within the Eurozone, 75% of firms surveyed aspire to increase international orders by 2013, with one in four aiming to boost export sales by 50% between now and 2016.
Simon Howes, MAS Area Director for South England, said: “While exporting is not an option for every business, results show that many South West manufacturers are looking to capitalise on increased sales from exporting their goods.”
One contributing manufacturer that has worked with MAS, Bristol-based TasteTech, generates over 60% of its sales through export and has achieved a doubling of its turnover in the last five years. Export sales have played an important part in this success, having grown significantly both in real terms and as a percentage of total sales during this period.
TasteTech is a specialist manufacturer of controlled release flavourings and ingredients, and a creative pioneer in the field of microencapsulation technology. The company currently sells its products in 33 countries, while its range of encapsulated ingredients and flavourings has been sampled in over 60 countries.
Janis Sinton, Managing Director, said: “TasteTech was founded to supply to the global market so exporting has always been part of what we do. With some of our products developed specifically for the chewing gum market, and with no UK manufacturers for this sector, exporting was essential if we were going to win customers. For a small company we have a truly global footprint and have built a fantastic network of customers, agents, distributors and friends. This is our 20th anniversary year and we are both very proud of our achievements and excited about future prospects.”
The barometer has also generated interesting results when compared with the survey conducted a year ago. In 2011, 29% of respondents said they would need help in adapting their products to meet different (overseas) standards. However, in the latest barometer just 18% said this would be their biggest manufacturing challenge to exporting. Whether this is due to an increase in skills or increased capability remains to be seen.
Simon commented: “The fall in responses from companies needing support to adapt their products is particularly pleasing because assessing if products are export-ready or if they will need adapting to another market is a crucial part of any export business strategy. We think that this reinforces the fact that the South West is home to an increasing number of smaller, agile businesses which demonstrate great ambition and creativity and are able to react well to changing demands. We would encourage manufacturers to fully utilise the network of support in place to help them succeed overseas, including tapping into support from our partners such as UK Trade and Investment.”
Russell Jones, Regional Director at UK Trade and Investment South West, said: “Many businesses considering international trade are often put off because they feel they don’t have sufficient knowledge of the processes or legislation involved. Targeting and researching the right export markets is essential for success and that’s where UKTI and our partner organisations can provide invaluable support to help the region’s businesses flourish overseas.”
South West manufacturers have clearly indicated that they felt export could be a viable and profitable option, although results from CBI’s latest quarterly SME Trends Survey revealed that total UK export orders in August weakened to their lowest level since January 2012. MAS will be looking to contrast and compare results in future surveys to see if the forecasts of extra growth in the South West have been realised.