LEP sets its sights on export growth

Boosting business growth and adding £2.6bn to the Leeds City Region economy are the aims of an ambitious new export drive by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The LEP is launching its We are International campaign on 14 November at the major regional ExploreExport 2012 event, taking place in Leeds as part of UK Export Week.

Led by the LEP in partnership with UKTI and Chamber International, the campaign aims to help more City Region companies take advantage of the significant business opportunities in emerging markets, and provide more support for existing and potential exporters to realise their growth potential.

The cornerstone of the campaign is an ‘export champions’ network, giving would-be exporters the chance to learn from City Region businesses that are already doing business overseas.

Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP Board, Neil McLean said:

“As the largest manufacturing base in the country, and the UK’s largest regional financial centre, Leeds City Region should be in prime position to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in emerging markets.

“Our research shows that companies which trade internationally are more innovative, more productive and more resilient than those that don’t. Many of our businesses are already realising the benefits of international trade – the objective of this campaign is to give new exporters the chance to learn from those who have been there and done it already. We hope as many seasoned exporters as possible will support the campaign, and help our region punch its weight internationally.”

Eric Hawthorn, Managing Director of exporting firm Radio Design and a member of the Leeds City Region’s Business, Innovation and Growth Panel added:

“Companies serious about their long-term growth prospects need to be thinking internationally. International trade is certainly key to the continued growth of my business. When we started out in 2007, we were able to get off the ground here in the UK but for long-term expansion we have to look overseas and exports now account for 27% of our sales.

“There’s a lot of support out there to make it easier for companies to trade internationally – UKTI in particular has helped us establish our operations in India and China. Take advantage of this support and explore your export potential. If your product or service has a market here, it will almost certainly have a market overseas.”

The We are International campaign is one of a range of measures to increase exports, agreed as part of the Leeds City Region ‘City Deal’ announced earlier this year. The Deal sets an ambitious target of eliminating the City Region’s current £1 billion trade deficit and achieving a surplus of £1.6bn by 2018.

A key objective of the Deal is to halve the gap between exports to the EU and emerging markets that offer the biggest growth potential. The latest Quarterly Economic Survey, published by the LEP and the Leeds City Region Chambers of Commerce earlier this month, revealed that a current over-reliance on exports to the US and Europe is hindering the growth of City Region firms by dampening export sales.

Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UKTI said:

“I’m delighted to endorse the We are International campaign. This is an innovative example of how UKTI and LEPs can work together to further our shared ambitions of helping more businesses realise the tremendmous benefits of international trade.”

Companies interested in becoming export champions are invited to register at www.weareinternational.co.uk. In return for varying levels of support, champions will have the chance to promote their export success via the LEP website, events and media stories.

Other campaign initiatives will include an export club – also being launched on 14 November – a series of local workshops and events, and online resources via the LEP’s business website.