Businesses get the edge at Export Network event

17 December 2015

MORE than 50 business representatives from across the region shared advice and experiences at the ninth We are International Export Network event.

Held at Addleshaw Goddard’s stylish Leeds offices, the event, on 10 December, attracted a large audience as the highlight of the session was the launch of Chamber International edge.

Available exclusively through Chamber International, edge - export document generation environment - is an innovative cloud-based business toolkit designed to make exporting simple for SMEs.

Delegates were welcomed by Eric Hawthorn, MD of exporter Radio Design Ltd and international trade lead with Leeds City Region LEP. He stressed the relevance of these peer-to-peer network events and for the benefit of the newcomers, Eric explained the system of ambassadors: experienced exporters who are matched with novices to share their wisdom and inspire would-be exporters to dive in.

New ambassador

He welcomed and introduced new ambassador Andrew Jackson, MD of Arthur Jackson and Co Ltd, Brighouse, who takes the number of business leaders performing this important network role to 51.

The ambassadors provide an invaluable service on a voluntary basis in helping SMEs get into exporting, overcome their fear and grow their markets. Much of that initial reluctance to launch into the overseas market stems from what is perceived to be complex bureaucracy as well as managing the logistics and the cultural and language differences.

Chamber International is a trusted and respected provider of expertise and assistance both in practical terms of getting the essential documentation in place for exporters, and also in fostering those relationships with other Chambers and businesses around the world in the top export markets.

And now, with Chamber International edge, it has built upon that established reputation with an exciting and unique online business tool which gives people on the move in today’s 24/7 global marketplace the ability to access their business anytime, anywhere on their phone, tablet or pc.

All about Chamber International edge

Nikki Cunningham, corporate account manager for Chamber International, presented the new product and told the delegates: “Smaller businesses face the challenges of using different systems for everything such as invoicing, stock management and logistics and that brings issues with compatibility and interfacing.

“Edge has been designed with exporters in mind and means you can  do everything simply with this one online tool. You can send quotations and generate export documentation, project manage logistic suppliers at the touch of a button, meet delivery deadlines and more importantly, get paid.

“It is exporting made simple.”

The beauty of the system, designed by IT specialists Morgan Goodwin after an 18-month  collaboration with Chamber International, its choice of retail partner, is its ability to adapt and grow and an export market finding tool is in development.

Morgan Goodwin’s tech experts were available to demonstrate the tool to interested delegates and many of the licences available on the evening were snapped up.

Anita Zhang of Acolink Ltd was among the first to register. She said: “I can’t wait to get using it - it makes so much sense to have everything together like this and it will make life so much easier.”

Another early adopter was Jeremiah Nyachuru of Canna Enterprises, who said: “I signed up for edge because it’s everything you need in one place and I am hoping it will help in putting systems and effectiveness in our exports to Africa.

“The multi-currency conversions, shipping and quotations elements appealed to me most.”

Export Savvy

Maintaining the theme of the internet as an essential tool to 21st century business, Jo McBeath of UKTI presented ExportSavvy to the audience. This is a web tool described as e-learning for exporters, designed to help beginners get to grips with the essentials “just enough, just in time”.

The website features quick reference questions and answers in its bitesize section, and more detailed information with interactive modules in the ‘think it through’ area.

Jo said: “The other crucial element is that accessing ExportSavvy provides you with a link through to one of our international trade advisors who you can talk to and who will offer support, help, and advice on all areas of exporting, and recommend training courses and seminars.”

Chamber International  senior associate Mike Strawson was quick to pick up on Jo’s positive message that with exporting comes controlled, better cash flow and other advantages of scale.

Networking session

With that food for thought the delegates were urged to meet the ambassadors with whom they had been ‘matched’ for some serious networking over drinks and canapés. Mike said: “The beauty of these events is that everyone talks to each other, the ambassadors enjoy the opportunity to network as much as the delegates; you never know who you are going to meet!”

Among the delegates was Graham Iles of Trevor Iles Ltd, a family firm based in Bradford which has grown over 40 years to become a major distributor of cleaning, janitorial and hygiene supplies throughout Yorkshire and the North of England.”

Graham said: “We have two export clients in Europe and we would like to grow that.”

It was Graham’s first We are International network event and he was impressed with the ambassador system.

“Our major client is local authorities and clearly they have less money to spend so we are looking at ways we can do something differently and this event seemed a good way of meeting people with different experiences.

“Every country in the world has a litter problem and we provide litter bins, so we should be out there.”

Graham was chatting to Ian Brierley of John L Brierley Ltd, the fourth generation of his family in the Huddersfield business which started in textiles and now mainly manufactures and deals in pipe cleaners. He exports to the Northern Europe market, mainly Germany and Scandinavia, and it was his first network event.

“I didn’t really know what to expect but came along thinking it would be interesting, that there would be some synergy.”

Harry Lingard and Angelo Clark had been to previous export events and specific questions for the ambassador they had been matched with.

They run Sharp Cutters Ltd: Harry is company secretary and finance director, Angelo is creative director. Their business is packaging, with Harry on the side of the business which manufactures the tooling required for the product, and Angelo in design and development.

It’s a long-established business but now they want to expand and pick up some overseas clients.

Harry said: “These events are crucial for us at learning which trees to bark up, as it were, when looking for those markets that we need. It is all about making the right contacts.

“But talking to the people here is great for boosting our confidence in our own product and ability.”

Angelo, as a creative, had specific questions about protecting intellectual property in a global market which he was going to be exploring during the event.

Dynamic ambassador Victoria Boldison is hugely experienced in global business development with a track record in creating high-growth departments and awards to prove it. And she is just as passionate about sharing the skills and knowledge she has gained along the way.

“It’s all about helping people to grow internationally,” she said. “I’m a big believer that British manufacturers and businesses are among the best in the world and we should have the confidence to go out there and tell the world.

“These network events are great for that - building confidence and supporting once another. And the way that delegates are matched with the most relevant ambassadors is perfect. It means everyone gets the most benefit out of the time. Everyone is busy and this ensures you get to speak to exactly the right people to help your particular issue or sector.”

  • Could you be an export ambassador? Chamber International is keen to welcome new ambassadors to the team. Get in touch via this website or call Mike Strawson on 0845 034 7200 to find out what it entails. 
  • The next We are International Export network event is on 23 February at Pinsent Masons, Leeds, 4.30pm-6.30pm.

It is open to any business in most sectors in the Leeds City Region that wishes to sell goods or services overseas. The Leeds City Region refers to the local authority districts of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York.            

Book online or call Mike Strawson on 0845 034 7200 to find out more.

Chamber International - Our Online Export Tool

                  Our Online Export Toolkit


Chamber International - WAI event on 10 December 2015


Chamber International - WAI event on 10 December 2015


Chamber International - WAI event on 10 December 2015


Chamber International - WAI event on 10 December 2015