Business, Freight News

More UK firms need to export, says FedEx survey

[ July 31, 2014   //   ]

Only a quarter of UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are internationally active, according to the Great British Export Report, published by international logistics firm FedEx Express today (31 July).

The survey of 1,000 British firms found that while many SMEs were exploring overseas sales, there is still a great deal of room for further growth, especially if the UK Government is to hit its ambitious £1 trillion export target by 2020. SMEs will have to grab this opportunity quickly, and even sooner if they don’t want to be beaten to the punch by SMEs from other EU nations.

The report found that 51.9% of the UK SMEs surveyed said they would require more support to achieve international expansion and that many still appear to find entering emerging markets challenging with China, Russia, Brazil and India are all under-represented in the SME export league table. A fifth of companies surveyed reported a lack of technical knowledge and concerns over the costs.

FedEx Express UK and Ireland’s vice president of operations, Trevor Hoyle, said: “Companies show real enthusiasm for getting into overseas markets but they say they want more help in getting into these markets; they need a logistics partner that can hold their hand.”

He pointed out that FedEx has a team in the UK solely to support SMEs and it can also draw on a team of 3,000 experts worldwide to help with matters such as customs clearance or documentation.

Exporting need not be difficult, he added. “Very often, it’s a matter of getting that first shipment through.” A typical scenario might be a start-up firm that has received its first overseas order or enquiry through its website. They might need advice on preparing a customs declaration, whether a commercial invoice is needed or if there are any tariffs levied.

But there is no reason why a firm, receiving its first overseas order in the morning, cannot have it despatched and on its may with FedEx that same evening.

Undoubtedly, some markets are more challenging to enter than others. China heads the table of most difficult markets, followed by Russia, the US, Middle East, Japan, Brazil, India, Australia, Turkey and Nigeria. Interestingly, though, there are commonalities between this league table and the list of the top ten export markets for UK SMEs, headed by the US but also including China, Japan, the UAE, India and Russia.

But there’s no doubt that exporting offers a huge potential prize, Hoyle adds: “Companies that expand beyond the UK are three times more likely to grow successfully. Consider that the UK only has 0.8% of the global population – exporting gives you access to the other 99.2%.”