By Simon Howes, Area Director at the Manufacturing Advisory Service
International horizons have never looked so appealing for UK manufacturers and it’s not difficult to see why. Favourable exchange rates have made our companies nearly 20% more competitive than two years ago and there appears to be a growing momentum amongst foreign companies to source from our shores. The ‘Designed and Made in Great Britain’ stamp has also enjoyed a resurgence and is valuable currency when appealing to consumers.
Another major difference lies a bit closer to home. UK engineering companies have enjoyed a change in mindset, which has seen them pro-actively target overseas opportunities. This was reinforced in the recent Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Barometer, with 71% of SMEs in England aspiring to increase international orders and one in ten expecting to boost turnover by 50% between now and 2013.
Interestingly 41% believed the biggest challenge to succeeding overseas is being able to generate sales, followed by selecting an agent/distributor (17%) and fluctuations in exchange rates (13%). In terms of manufacturing issues, securing competitive production costs was listed as the biggest worry (50%), with after sales support (19%) and meeting different international standards (14%) the other most common concerns. What this tells us is that there is a clear appetite for manufacturers to export, despite the well-documented turmoil in the Eurozone and escalating political tensions in the Middle East.
And let’s not forget, doing business overseas isn’t something you take lightly and isn’t right for everyone.
The good news is that there is a lot of dedicated support that companies can tap into, including UK Trade & Investment, Aerospace Defence Security (ADS), and a comprehensive network of embassies across the world. And of course at MAS we have an army of 80 on-the-ground advisors who can support firms with securing competition productions costs, helping secure international standards and identifying market opportunities.
So dust off those passports and see what the big wide world can do for your business.
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