Business, Freight News

Bradford tops UK export table

[ April 20, 2015   //   ]

Bradford is the UK’s top exporting city – followed by Leeds, London, Manchester and Southampton, according to a new survey by FedEx Express.

The global parcels and freight carrier has just published a survey – the UK Export Epicentres Report – that questioned 2,500 small and medium-sized firms in manufacturing, technology, health and beauty, hospitality and finance about their exporting rates. It found an 86% exporting rate in first-placed Bradford, and 81% in the following four cities, closely followed by Belfast, at 79%.

What was also surprising, said managing director ground operations UK and Ireland, Ed Clarke, was the relatively high rate of exporting even in the cities at the bottom of the 23-strong table – 68% in Glasgow and Sheffield, 67% in Coventry and 66% in Newcastle. (In other cities, the sample size was too small to be statistically significant.)

Clarke said: “What is surprising is the number of smaller cities that punch well above their weight when it comes to exporting.” He ventured that this could partly be due to historical factors. Bradford, for example, has been a centre of the wool trade since mediaeval times and it has always had a large number of freight forwarders, relative to its size.

But other cities have also come to the fore, like Derby – which had the highest growth rate in exports, at 93% – and Leicester, for example.

Encouragingly, said Clarke, 94% of SMEs say they are optimistic about exporting, although a third said they didn’t always get the support they needed from Government agencies or local bodies. “However, FedEx can help – we have suject experts to asssit people,” Clarke pointed out.

Often, companies got into exporting almost by accident, he added. “For example, one lady had a business selling vinyl records, when she got a single order from the US. Now she’s sending 600 shipments abroad every year.”

FedEx can help first-time exporters with tasks such as customs documentation or classification of goods.

The survey also found that a large majority (79%) of SMEs view their regional locality as a positive factor in stimulating overseas growth and profitability.

FedEx’s vice president of northern Europe operations, FedEx Express Trevor Hoyle concluded: “Now is the time to encourage UK SMEs to embrace their regional identities when building global relationship. We’ve seen first-hand the wealth of benefits available to a business even at the very start of their export journey. Our main aim is to give all Britain’s regions the support and guidance they need in order to help our customers compete on a global scale.”

 Export Rates in 26 Key British cities



Leeds, London, Manchester, Southampton






Leicester, Birmingham




Bristol, Derby, Portsmouth, Plymouth




Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Norwich, Nottingham


Milton Keynes


Cardiff, Hull


Glasgow, Sheffield