Let's talk... selling overseas

As the Prime Minister looks to take the country closer to Brexit next Wednesday, we speak to LEP Chair, Roger Marsh (@rogermarshOBE), on the importance of export, the LEP’s recently launched campaign Let’s Talk Real Business and our forthcoming, and poignantly scheduled, SME event Let’s talk… selling overseas.

Why is the LEP interested in promoting overseas trade?

“Our ambition is for Leeds City Region to be an environment where trading internationally is commonplace. Through our Strategic Economic Plan we identified that to achieve our full economic potential, we need to boost business growth by increasing export.

However I know from conversations I’ve had with SME business owners, finding the right support and market insights can be time consuming and one of the last routes to growth to consider. We want to change that perception and support the Government’s ambition of trebling the number of exporters and increasing the value of exports by 2020.

Ultimately, our job at the LEP is to simplify all the support available, and we want to start getting more export opportunities in front of businesses.”

Come to our Let’s talk… selling overseas event and tell us what export advice you want to hear about.

Why is the LEP holding an event about selling overseas?

“We’re hosting this event because we want to give local SMEs a chance to hear from other local SME owners about the real experiences and challenges they encounter in the global marketplace.

It’s going to be a showcase of great local businesses from Seabrooks Crisps, ResearchBods, Elmwood to Hopkins Catering Equipment, trading overseas giving a really personal account of their experiences. I’m really looking forward to hearing the stories.

The event is also an invitation to other business owners to get in touch and talk about their ambitions too. The LEP is a public private partnership and we want to open up those networks and share experiences."

Who are is the LEP partnering with and why?

"We’re partnering with Commonwealth First, a new initiative to help SMEs trade and invest across the Commonwealth. I’m delighted that three Leeds City Region businesses have already been recruited onto their second cohort, including Hopkins Catering Equipment who will be talking about their experience at our event. I look forward to hearing about progress from Victoria Hopkins.

I’m also delighted that local SMEs, who the LEP has supported will be supplying the event. I’m really proud that we’ll be able to showcase the fine produce of ice-cream makers Northern Bloc, artisan cake makers Tarte & Berry, charcuterie experts Friends of Ham and Scandinavian fine dining specialists Baltzersen’s."

You recently led a trade mission to China on behalf of the City Region. What did you find out?

"I was delighted to return to China this March, following a successful trip last year, to continue to build our relationship with Chinese e-commerce platform, Kaola.com. In late 2016 we launched a search to find exporters based in Leeds City Region that want to break into the fast-growing East Asian market through the Kaola.com platform. The site attracts a customer base of over eight hundred million users and are currently providing access for over 5,000 new products and brands into the Chinese market.

I’m proud to announce that we’ve now taken the next step and signed a partnership agreement to jointly develop a long-term focus on trade opportunities in East Asia. There is huge demand for high quality British products from the growing Chinese middle class and I want to make sure our businesses are front of the queue for these opportunities. I have seen first-hand the potential in China and we need to be proactive in maximising the benefits to businesses. We want to support businesses in Leeds City Region to access the wealth of international opportunities from markets around the world."

Follow @LeedsCityRegion on twitter or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about the latest developments with Kaola.

What do you think about Brexit?

"Let’s talk… selling overseas is poignantly on the same day Theresa May will trigger Article 50. I believe we must be on the front foot, and not adopt a wait and see position. Uncertainty has defined the past decade and we cannot allow it to continue to do so."

Want to know about selling overseas? Hear from real businesses on Wednesday 29 March or read 9 common mistakes SMEs make when trading online overseas and how to avoid them.