A north west company that exports almost 100% of its production and which won a Queen’s Award for International Trade this year was recognised at a special UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) lunch this week.
Founded in 1995, Macclesfield-based Fibrevison is the world’s leading manufacturer of sensors and online monitoring equipment for the synthetic fibre industry, and it joined 16 other Queen’s Award winners from the north west at the event in Knutsford.
Together it is hoped the companies can help UKTI North West encourage 1,000 new companies onto the export ladder this year by becoming regional champions for international trade as part of the Export Challenge.
After initial success exporting to Europe and the US, Fibrevision – which now turns over £7m a year - has extended its reach into the Asian economies and more recently the emerging BRIC markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
On acting as a champion for exporting and as an advisor to inexperienced exporters, the firm’s founder and former MD Malcolm Hinchliffe said: "Success in exports comes from the same key factors as success in a home market – market knowledge and delivering the right product at the right price with excellent support and service.
"In our case as a small company dealing in the B2B sector, market knowledge is developed by building up a good network of local representatives. Firms need to establish good contacts in each market to develop a deep understanding of what customers really require."
Other north west companies represented at the event included Nichols Plc from Merseyside manufacturers of the globally popular Vimto soft drinks range, Oliver Valvetek from Knutsford, Cheshire, suppliers of subsea equipment to control oil and gas flows and Regatta Ltd from Manchester, manufacturers of high quality outdoor clothing, footwear and accessories.
Three companies from Lancashire – technical textile firm BMP Europe Ltd from Accrington, Burnley-based Colonial Gifts, and Brisbane Moss from Todmorden who produce corduroy, moleskin, velvet and cottons also demonstrated the wide range of sectors currently enjoying success overseas.
Southport firm Inciner8 relies heavily on export markets, with over 90% of production currently shipped overseas. The company has experienced over 130% growth in the past three years.
Managing director Vince Ferguson is another champion of market research. He said: “We firmly promote our products as being ‘British Made’ and are proud to say that British products are still highly regarded in many countries throughout the world.
"Our advice to new exporters would be to research every country thoroughly before entering that market. I would also highly recommend the use of dealerships or agents in countries as – given the training and support – agents can be your local salesperson and direct route for sales. In the early stages we made use of the help available through UKTI with grand funding and also the services available from the overseas trade officers."
Clive Drinkwater, director of UKTI North West, said: "We were delighted to host an event for the worthy winners of the Queen’s Award for International Trade during Jubilee Month. The fact that we have so many winners from the north west shows what fantastic companies we have in the region, which continues to be the country’s biggest exporter outside the south east.
"The north west’s prosperity over the coming years will not stem from domestic markets alone, and we want to ensure that the region’s firms are not just trading abroad, but thriving there and following the example of the Queen’s Award winners here today.
"I am challenging the north west to find 1,000 new exporting companies in 2012 - a demanding target but one I believe the region can rise to with the help of companies like the ones here today. I see these businesses as champions for international trade, and an inspiration for fledgling companies, and we are calling on them today to help us achieve our export ambitions for the region."