Export champions share tricks of the trade

4 March 2013

Experienced exporters from across Leeds City Region have joined forces through a new network to help more companies take advantage of opportunities in international markets.

The We are International Export Network brings together successful exporters from a wide range of sectors. They will be sharing the secrets of their success through a series of business networking events - starting on 12 March at DLA Piper, Leeds.

The Network is part of the We are International campaign – an initiative by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), UKTI and Chamber International, to add £2.6 billion to the Leeds City Region economy by providing more support for companies to do business overseas.

The event will include talks by three exporting ambassadors: managing director of Radio Design Ltd, Shipley, Eric Hawthorn; managing director of Trio Healthcare Ltd, Broughton; John Chacksfield, who holds a Queens Award for outstanding achievement in international trade and managing director of Lighthouse Automotive, Leeds, Neil Park.

Radio Design Ltd, founded in 2007, designs and manufactures equipment for the mobile telecoms infrastructure. The business, which has 150 staff, exports 27 per cent of its £15m turnover.

Eric Hawthorn says: “Whereas Germany exports 47 per cent of its GDP, the UK exports only about 21 per cent. Every national market outside the EU throws up different challenges and, while Leeds City Region has good professional support, businesses can benefit from speaking with like-minded people who have overcome similar challenges and that is what this campaign is about.”

John Chacksfield, a co-founder of Trio Healthcare Ltd, which manufacturers silicone medical devices and exports 75 per cent of its turnover, says: “There is undoubtedly strong, untapped export potential in Leeds City Region. If companies sell their products or services well in the UK, in the vast majority of cases, they will be able to do the same overseas and this initiative aims to help them to do just that.”

Companies based outside of Leeds have the option of attending satellite events in Bradford, York and Huddersfield, where they will be able to hear the keynote speeches by video conference, and network with local exporters.

Tim Bailey, Director of Chamber International, which is running the Export Network said: “Many of the barriers to exporting are practical so this is very much about giving businesses the hands-on help they need. Our network of Export Champions, recruited from experienced exporting companies, can assist firms overcome these obstacles by giving them contacts and invaluable tips.

“The benefits of exporting are enormous. Research shows that businesses selling goods and services overseas are not only more profitable and innovative but achieve faster growth and are much more likely to survive.”

Boosting export rates is a key element of the Leeds City Region ‘City Deal’, agreed with government last year. The Deal sets an ambitious target of eliminating the City Region’s current £1 billion trade deficit and achieving a growing surplus of £1.6bn by 2018.

Neil McLean, Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP said: “What’s unique about the We are International campaign is that it’s primarily about connecting new or aspiring exporters with companies that have been there and done it already. We’re extremely grateful to our export champions for giving their time and expertise to help other companies break into overseas markets, and help our economy punch its weight on the global stage. We have some fantastic export success stories in this City Region, and I hope that as many companies as possible will take advantage of the Export Network to learn about the practicalities of entering new markets, and develop new business connections.”

Companies interested in becoming export champions are can register at www.weareinternational.co.uk. In return for varying levels of support, champions will have the chance to promote their export success via the LEP website, events and media stories. .

The initiative  will continue with a series of quarterly two-hour meetings and other events shaped by the needs of exporting businesses and their mentors.

Places at the launch event cost £25+VAT. Telephone Nikki Cunningham on  0845 034 7200 for further details.