Friday, October 23, 2015

News: Expert advice from Rotherham exporters

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Three of Rotherham's leading exporters told businesses to do their research, focus on a key market and seek expert advice as they shared the secrets of their international success at a recent event aimed at encouraging more companies to trade overseas.

Business leaders from Pyronix, Gala Tent and Newburgh Precision encouraged other companies to get involved in exports and explained how international trade was key to driving growth.

Organised by UKTI, the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and RiDO, the business and regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, the free event was held at RiDO's Fusion @ Magna business centre.

Security systems manufacturer Pyronix has enjoyed average annual growth of between 10 to 15% thanks to international trade and the Hellaby firm's commercial director Colin Beresford said research, a focused strategy and a local feel was critical to that success.

He explained: "You have to do your homework. Make sure you understand both the rules and regulations for the country and specifically those for your product or service. There are always many layers to the onion in each country that go beyond international standards.

"While we could operate in many markets, we don't. It's far better to invest and commit resources to one strategic market. You will get much more out of that market and will get a firm foothold for further development.

"It's true that many markets will be happy to buy UK products in a UK language. With others you have to talk specifically to them. Making products feel local can be costly and time-consuming but it could be worth it. Commit the time and resources you need to succeed."

Pyronix sells abroad through distributors, alarm receiving centres and large installers with the aim of replicating the success it has had in the UK. Turnover this year is expected to be over £23m and the expanding firm sells around £11m worth of products to the UK market. Strategic export markets include Russia, Italy, Poland and South Africa.

Jason Mace, founder of Gala Tent, told guests how his business has grown from a temporary table top operation in the function room of a local working men's club to an international supplier. One the UK's largest importer and exporter of tents, marquees and pop up awnings, Gala Tent has a turnover of £10m.

The company's route to export without franchises has enabled Mace to move quickly and still keep control of the business. A set of websites with their own back office functions were created by the Gala team in Manvers and taken on by overseas distributors with their own warehouse space who could translate them and do the selling in return for exclusivity.

Eleven distributors are in place in the EU, along with one in Iceland.

Mace said: "Start simple. We began in Ireland and developed a model for exporting. Do the research and check if the country wants your product. Once you've decided on a target, stick with it and don't be tempted to try multiple destinations at once.

"Once you've established a successful system for international trade – expand! I'd say to every business that they should try exporting, it is worth it. Without exports, your business won't expand."

Advanced manufacturer Newburgh Precision discussed how it was returning to the export field following the downturn in the global oil & gas market. The business specialises in manufacturing medium to large precision engineering components and assemblies and has an impressive facility at Templeborough.

David Greenan, managing director at Newburgh Precision, told the attendees: "We've got some great skills in the business but the challenge we face is knowing which countries to target, what markets to go for and who the customers are. You need local knowledge for that and that’s where the UKTI and expert advisors come in."

After the event Tim O'Connell, business development manager at RIDO, said: "This event was a great opportunity to showcase some of the world-class businesses here and to understand how they are finding success around the world. By working together and sharing our experiences and contacts we can really show what we have to offer the world."

Pyronix website
Gala Tent website
Newburgh Precision website
UKTI Yorkshire website
RiDO website

Images: UKTI / twitter

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