Top Tips for New Exporters

FOUR of Yorkshire’s most successful exporters have been selected to speak at Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s We are International Export Network event in Leeds later this month.

The four will talk on the theme, What I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Exporting, at the two-hour afternoon event at Addleshaw Goddard, Leeds, on June 25, which is expected to be attended by 80 new and novice exporters across the ten local authority areas, which comprise Leeds City Region.

The speakers are: managing director of Industrial Textiles and Plastics Ltd, Easingwold, Marc van der Voort; international projects director at DWA Architects, York, Mel Fairborn-Varley; logistics manager at Pace plc, Bradford, Brian Farrell and director of Lime Tree Europe, Halifax, Paul Walters.

All four, who has been selected for their different skills in trading overseas, are Export Network ambassadors giving help and advice to companies wishing to get involved with international commerce for the first time, or to break into new markets.

Protective textiles manufacturer, Industrial Textiles and Plastics Ltd, exports to Azerbaijan, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Oman, Qatar, Turkey and UAE; DWA Architects has designed assisted-living schemes and over-60s apart-hotels in the Middle East as well as having experience in China, Hong Kong and Russia

Lime Tree Europe has more than 40 years’ exporting and logistics experience in the electrical, engineering, nursery and toy industries in Europe, US and the Middle and Far East while set-top box manufacturer, Pace Plc is global market leader, selling to Belgium, India, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE and USA.

The We are International initiative – delivered by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership with support from international trade specialists Chamber International, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Yorkshire, Enterprise Europe Network and MY Export Hub – aims to add £1.6bn to the City Region economy and create thousands of jobs by 2018.

The latest Export Network event, being arranged by Chamber International as part of We are International, is the eighth since the initiative, which has engaged with hundreds of businesses, was launched in March 2013.

To book please contact Chamber International on Tel: 0845 034 7200. For more information about the We are International campaign, visit www.weareinternational.co.uk

Construction Lunch: Cities Challenge

Business leaders in Bradford and Leeds were given stark reminders recently of the importance of technology and developing people skills if their cities are to keep up (catch up?) with the competition.

A Chamber construction lunch received presentations on so-called ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Magnet Cities’, in which case studies of smaller and less influential metropolitan areas have reinvented and regalvanised themselves to make them forces to be reckoned with.  Denver, Malmo and Bilbao are among nine included in a KPMG report on ‘Magnet Cities’ that have turned themselves around.  BT’s study of ‘Future Cities’, attendees were told, shows how business leaders and politicians need to ‘get smart’ in the use of ‘sensing technology’ and ‘big data’.  This, then, would allow fast-growing populations to be matched with higher economic development, prompt physical renewal and better connectivity.

Sounds complicated?  It is – to this writer, at least!  Though we’re sure that our highly-tuned and fast-thinking members will grasp the concepts quickly enough.  The presentations given can be found below.

BT Future Cities

KPMG Magnet Cities

Queen’s Speech: Info & Chamber Reaction

A bill-by-bill account of the details of today’s Queen’s Speech can be found here.

The reaction of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is here:

Andrew Lindsay, Chairman of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The Government has spoken on its plans – we now need to see delivery on growth.  Sustainable growth that will create a stronger platform for businesses across West & North Yorkshire, to create more wealth, entrepreneurship, exports and ultimately, jobs.  We welcome the plans to have more local decision-making and cut red tape, and to ease the housing crisis and make young people more work-ready.  However, these are all promises that we have heard before – not necessarily from just a Conservative administration, but certainly from previous incoming governments; and so businesses will remain sceptical until results are delivered.

“Many businesses want reform of the UK’s relationship with the EU – not withdrawal, but less regulation and safeguards for those members not in the euro-zone.  Business uncertainty could be reduced by having a referendum on EU membership sooner, rather than later; although not until the hot air and rhetoric has faded to provide more clarity.

“The new government has stated its intentions – now we need to see action that demonstrates the Cabinet is proactive, pro-business and pro-the North.”

The reaction of the British Chambers of Commerce can be found here.

28May15, T&A, CEO reaction to Queen’s Speech

BCC: Queen’s Speech is a step in the right direction for business

Giving his reaction to the Queen’s Speech delivered today, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“If the last Parliament was defined by austerity, this one should be defined by growth. And the government needs a confident, unapologetic programme to deliver that sustained growth. What we have seen in the Queen’s Speech is a positive start, and overall the message appears to be one of ambition, enterprise and growth for firms across the country.

“Businesses will welcome the government’s proposals to cut red tape, the move to more local decision-making and progress on an agenda which will see the UK reform its relationship with the EU before holding a referendum.

“While recognising that an incoming government cannot do everything at once, alongside these encouraging ideas, businesses will want to see the government seek to ease the housing crisis and tackle access to childcare in a sustainable way. Firms will also be concerned by the absence of any concrete measures to ensure young people are ready to make the transition from education to work and, crucially, measures to bring about a revolution in the UK’s export performance.”

Commenting on specific elements from within the Queen’s Speech, John Longworth said:

On the Enterprise Bill:

“Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across the political spectrum. If properly targeted the government’s efforts to cut red tape for business could make a real difference – saving time and money. However, as much of the most costly regulatory burdens are created by the EU, cutting red tape will be a challenge.

“The government also has a role to play in helping to alleviate both the cause and effect of late payments. But, in order to truly change the culture of late payment, we need to see a concerted effort from businesses themselves.”

On the Trade Union Bill

“Individuals and businesses depend on transport, education, and healthcare service, so the right to strike must only be exercised with the greatest restraint. Higher standards should apply when a strike puts people at risk or affects the ability of large numbers of their fellow citizens to earn a living, creating equity between the right to work and the right to withdraw labour. In the eyes of businesses, large and small, this legislation has merit, as it would help ensure essential services and the freedom to work in the event of strike action.”

On the EU Referendum and EU Finance Bills:

“Our research shows that British businesses want to remain in the EU, but a different EU, one which has been reformed. They want the Union to work better for them, now and in the future. The government must pursue a reform agenda that gets the single market working properly for UK businesses trading in Europe; addresses what it means for us to be part of the union, but not part of the monetary union; creates safeguards for non-Eurozone countries in EU decision-making; and ensures that the EU adopts a relentlessly pro-business, pro-growth agenda that minimises regulatory burdens.

“A referendum should be held as soon as is practicable to minimise further business uncertainty.”

On the Housing Bill:

“The housing shortage is a brake on business growth and employment in many parts of the UK. Yet the problem isn’t that we’re selling too few houses, it’s that we don’t build enough of them. Businesses would rather see the government focus their efforts on freeing up more land for much-needed housing, including, where necessary, on the green belt. An annual target of 200,000 new homes built by the private-sector should be central to the government’s housing ambitions.”

On the Childcare Bill:

“Expanded access to childcare is a win-win solution for employers and parents alike, enabling more talented individuals, should they wish, to stay in work. However, past commitments to raid pensions savings, even to pay for a business priority such as childcare, will dismay entrepreneurs, for whom long-term rewards are often more important than short-term pay. We hope the Government reconsider and move towards a more cost effective method of supporting working parents through a fiscally neutral Childcare Contribution Scheme, as outlined in our Business Manifesto.”

On the National Insurance Contributions/Finance Bill:

“Freezing income tax, along with some other major taxes for the next five years, would leave the government with little wiggle room, particularly if economic circumstances were to change. This has the hallmark of posturing, not planning.”

On devolution:

“Businesses across the UK broadly support the concept of further devolution of decision-making powers. Whether it’s devolution to the nations or within the nations of the UK, the transfer of powers must deliver greater efficiency and greater accountability at a local level, with businesses having a say in local economic development. If we get devolution to work for business, we will create sustainable growth and job creation for many years to come.”

On the Immigration Bill:

“The government is right to strike a balance between the legitimate concerns of communities regarding immigration and the vital needs of businesses and the broader economy. If we are to have wealth creation that benefits all and deliver long-term growth, then businesses must have access to the skills they need and sometimes that means drawing on talent from outside the UK, while at the same time maintaining stability and social cohesion. Immigration should be based on a points system, flexed according to economic need.

“But these proposals must go hand in hand with measures to equip young people with the skills they need to compete in a country with open borders and recognising the need for improvements in productivity. Not least, when youth unemployment is three times higher than the average, balancing these factors is the key to achieving long-term economic success and social cohesion.”

On the Education and Adoption Bill:

“It is welcome that the Government is focused on raising standards in schools, but businesses also rely on the education system to equip young people with the soft skills and attitude they need to successfully make the transition to work. The government can help to generate a pipeline of young talent by ensuring that secondary schools are measured on pupil destination and earnings, by guaranteeing a business governor in every secondary school and ensuring that every student leaves school with high quality exposure to business.”

On the High Speed Rail Bill:

“Britain desperately needs world-class infrastructure, including on the rail network. HS2 will deliver the step-change in capacity that Britain’s north-south railways need. Parliament must progress the HS2 Bill as swiftly as possible to ensure the benefits of the scheme are felt far and wide.”

Clarion and Wrigleys celebrate 300th case

The costs and litigation funding team at Leeds based law firm Clarion has recently completed its 300th matter on behalf of Wrigleys.

The Clarion team has been working with Wrigleys to help the firm recover costs, predominantly on Court of Protection cases, since 2011. Over the last four years, Clarion estimates that it has helped Wrigleys to recover around £5m of fees, enabling the firm which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield, to continue to grow.

Andrew McAulay, costs lawyer and partner at Clarion who leads the firm’s growing team, said: “Over the last six years, our costs and litigation funding work for other law firms has become one of Clarion’s fastest expanding service areas and we now work on behalf of more than 100 law firms throughout the UK. We understand only too well the importance of maximising costs recovery.

“Our work with Wrigleys is a great example of the mutually beneficial relationships we enjoy – by helping the firm to swiftly recover costs, it has benefitted from better cash flow enabling it to continue to grow and, therefore, to bring more recovery work to us.”

Lynne Bradey, partner at Wrigleys, comments: “We have enjoyed a very productive relationship with Clarion’s legal costs team. They are responsive and, as part of a law firm, they are aware of how important it is for cash flow for costs work not to be delayed. Their expertise has added real value, enabling us to recover fees more quickly as our Court of Protection work has continued to grow and facilitating the firm’s continued expansion.”

Clarion’s six-strong costs and litigation funding team works on a portfolio of clients nationwide dealing with all areas of legal costs, acting for receiving and paying parties.  It specialises in high value claims for Costs, costs budgeting, Court of Protection costs and solicitor/own client costs disputes.

Picture shows (L to R): Back row: Lynne Bradey; Ian Potter; Philip Stevenson and Lisa Eato of Wrigleys, and Andrew McAulay of Clarion; front row: Stephanie Kaye, Julianne Brown, Danielle Schofield of Clarion

Retail soars but growth still unbalanced

  • Retail sales volumes in April 2015, up 1.2% on the month, up 4.7% on the year
  • Average store prices fell by 3.2% in April 2015, compared with April 2014

Commenting on the latest retail sales figures for April 2015 published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Following a modest setback in March, retail sales have soared in April. These figures indicate that after the slow patch in the economy in Q1, the pace of growth is likely to accelerate in the second quarter.

“Although the spike in retail sales is good news and will strengthen confidence, we must remember that the UK’s economic growth remains unbalanced and is too reliant on consumer spending. Without such rebalancing the pace of activity may eventually stall.

“The new government must place an emphasis on supporting and encouraging more businesses to seek out opportunities for growth in international markets. Only then will the UK be able to achieve sustainable growth in the long-term. ”

Rail Strike: CANCELLED

A strike is planned to take place by rail workers from 5pm Mon 25th to 5pm Tue 26th May.

People are advised to review their travel plans during this time as there is likely to be severe disruption if the industrial action goes ahead (please also keep an eye on local and national news to see if it is cancelled at short notice).

More information is available from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority here.

STOP PRESS:  Strike called off, 3pm Thur 21 May.  More on BBC here.

New head of S&M at Savilles

Technology specialist Saville Audio Visual has announced a natural successor for sales and marketing director Ed Everard, who has recently retired after forty years in the business. With almost thirty years experience across many aspects of the business, Andy Dyson has played a particularly influential role in Saville’s award winning success over the past fifteen years.

Andy joined the company in 1988 as a warehouseman, before moving into the Hire Division firstly as a Technician, then Conference Manager. After spells at the York, Hull, Coventry and Edinburgh offices, he later became Regional Manager for the north east and Scotland.

He was appointed to the main Saville board as Commercial Director in 2012, following several years as Divisional Manager for systems manufacturing, installations, videoconferencing and digital signage. There he was instrumental in the restructuring of the company’s sales and technical divisions into a single business unit, increasing efficiency and boosting turnover and profit performance.

Now as Sales and Marketing Director, he takes on responsibility for the company’s high profile national sales and marketing operations, which he sees as a new challenge. He said: “I am delighted to take on responsibility for the company’s marketing, developing an area we are already very proud of.  Whilst maintaining the industry leading ‘Communicate’ annual publication, I intend to focus on further development of our e-marketing including our website and social media presence.  I am also looking forward to working with our Conference & Live Events team to capitalise on the investment we’ve made in new technology, in particular in high resolution LED display products.”

With major clients throughout the UK corporate, education and health sectors, plus government departments and military customers, Saville has recently reported record turnover figures for 2014, exceeding £40 million for the first time in the company’s history.

Manufacturers buck trend

To coincide with Export Week (18-22 May) a quarterly report released today (Monday) by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and DHL Express shows that British manufacturing firms are rising to the global challenge, reporting increased export orders and sales in Q1 2015.

The survey, running since 2006, of more than 2,300 exporting firms has revealed that 46% of manufacturers reported increased export orders in Q1, compared to 36% in Q4 2014. Meanwhile, the proportion of service firms that recorded increased export sales remained steady at 33%.

Furthermore, almost half of exporting manufacturers surveyed (44%) increased their labour force in the first three months of 2015. The vast majority of these new jobs were full-time positions (84%), up from 61% in Q4 2014.

This level of growth has been achieved in the face of increasing pressure from higher exchange rates, in particular the rising pound against the euro, which reached a seven-year high in early March 2015. More than half of manufacturing firms surveyed (55%) said that exchange rates are having an impact on their ability to trade globally, compared to 48% in Q4 2014 and 34% at the same time last year.

BCC Director General, John Longworth said ‘manufacturers are turning to export markets abroad to fuel their growth ambitions as weak growth in the UK persists’.

The key findings from the report are:

  • Almost half of manufacturing firms surveyed (46%) recorded increased export orders in Q1 2015, compared to 36% in Q4 2014
  • In addition, 43% of manufacturing firms reported an increase in export sales, up from 38% in Q4 2014
  • Meanwhile, the proportion of service firms that recorded increased export sales remained steady at 33%
  • 44% of manufacturing exporters added new staff to their labour force in Q1, and the majority of these new roles were full-time (84%)
  • More than a third of manufacturing firms (38%) said their cash flow had improved, up from 29% in Q4 2014
  • More than half of manufacturing firms surveyed reported that the exchange rate is having an impact on their ability to trade globally (55%, compared to 48% in Q4 2014 and 34% in Q1 2014)
  • Local Chambers of Commerce provide exporters with the documentation required to move their goods into international markets. The volume of trade documentation index issued by the Accredited Chamber Network increased to 121.43 in Q1, compared to 117.43 in Q4 2014
  • The highest increase in exporting activity was recorded in East Midlands, West Midlands and the South West

Commenting, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Manufacturers are turning to export markets abroad to fuel their growth ambitions as weak growth in the UK persists. Encouragingly, the increase in export sales and orders has come about in spite of the rise in the pound against the euro over recent months – a credit to the strength and expertise of the UK’s manufacturing sector.

“Despite these positive figures, real progress towards eliminating the UK’s trade deficit remains elusive. At the heart of the new government’s agenda must be ambitious plans to improve the UK’s trade performance – we have to develop a pipeline of new exporters and help existing exporters break into new markets. Only then will the UK regain its position as a trading powerhouse and unlock future economic growth.

Commenting, Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland, said:

“The findings are very positive with confidence levels amongst UK exporters reaching a record high. Manufacturing is the hero this quarter. Not only were manufacturing exporters particularly confident but a large proportion of businesses surveyed are also planning to hire new staff.

“With much discussion and analysis on how UK manufacturing is transforming it is positive that UK manufacturers are considering overseas markets for growth. There is a global demand for high quality British products and we hope to see this continue so the sector can once again establish itself as a leader on the world stage.

“We are confident in the future of the UK export market and we know from our customers that businesses can reap the rewards through export success. To sustain growth, exporters, particularly SMEs, need to take advantage of the increasing tools and support available.”