FedEx Express, the world's largest express transportation company, today released the Great British Export Report, offering a ground-breaking insight into the export behaviour of UK businesses.
According to the first edition of the report, based on the views of 1,000 SMEs, only one-quarter of UK SMEs are currently ‘internationally active’, with a third (35%) of UK businesses identifying tapping into new markets as essential to their success in the next 12 months.
However, more than half (51.9%) of the 1,000 UK SMEs surveyed said they would require more support to achieve this.
Businesses which trade internationally are three times more likely to grow than those who do not, and FedEx Express is urging UK businesses to start thinking internationally to stimulate their growth and boost profitability, highlighting the solutions and expertise available to help UK businesses continue on an upward trajectory – driving the UK economy forward.
The UK has recorded the strongest export growth in the EU in 2013, outstripping every other large economy. This growth is down to surging exports (City AM, March 2014) and highlights the UK SMEs are doing a good job and positivity is set to continue in this area.
The Great British Export Report is released at a time when the UK government is emphasising the pivotal role SMEs need to play in the continued recovery by setting an ambitious £1tr export value target by 2020 (gov.uk).
The UK economy is looking more positive and UK businesses are taking advantage of international opportunities; however, the report also identified a number of obstacles faced by businesses when trying to access new markets. Twenty percent of companies surveyed reported a lack of technical knowledge and a concern over the costs whilst 14% were waiting for economic conditions to improve further.
While the report uncovered some challenges to trading internationally, there is no shortage in optimism about the future of doing business overseas. According to the survey, of the companies which do currently export, 41% predict that their activities will be mostly international in just five years' time, rising to 57% in 15 years.
“Now is the time for UK businesses to prepare for the internationalisation of their activities,” says Trevor Hoyle (pictured), vice president of operations, FedEx Express UK & Ireland. “This will allow them to get off to a flying start on the global stage and succeed in driving the UK economy forward as long as they have access to the correct support required to help propel them to continuing international success.”
Many UK SMEs appear to find entering emerging markets challenging. China, Russia, Brazil and India are all under-represented in the SME export league table with China—the world's second largest economy—surprisingly only occupying the sixth spot and topping the poll of the most difficult markets to export to. Other challenging markets or regions to enter include the US, the Middle East and Japan, the report reveals.
"This survey has picked up on some thought provoking trends in business behaviour and attitudes," Hoyle continues. "With three decades of experience in the UK, we've see first-hand how starting to export can have a revitalising impact on a business. Our job at FedEx is to give British businesses global knowledge at the local level in order to seize these opportunities."
"It's crucial for a business to have the right blend of personal support, expertise and network access from the outset if they are going to be able to succeed internationally. We understand improved access is key to international success. We’re committed to maximising connectivity to the global marketplace to ensure UK SMEs gain increased support they require," Hoyle explained.
To download a copy of the Great British Export Report containing analysis and the full findings, please click here.
Top 10 markets for UK SMEs which export globally
1. US (44% export to)
2. Australia (30%)
3. New Zealand (20%)
4. Canada (20%)
5. South Africa (17%)
6. China (15%)
7. Japan (14%)
8. United Arab Emirates (12%)
9. India (12%)
10. Russia (12%)
Most challenging markets to enter:
1. China (21% SMEs find challenging)
2. Russia (16%)
3. US (13%)
4. Middle East (13%)
5. Japan (10%)
6. Brazil (9%)
7. India (6%)
8. Australia (5%)
9. Turkey (5%)
10. Nigeria (5%)