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UK regional cities power SME export boom


SMEs in regional cities across the UK are bucking the trend when it comes to international trade as revealed in research released today by FedEx Express.

This comes just a few days after news that growing ecommerce sales were fuelling demand for commercial vehicles. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said 108,456 commercial vehicles were registered in the first three months of 2015, 22.3% up on the same period in 2014: “Van registrations have risen consistently over the past two years, mainly as a result of steadily increasing business confidence and a range of attractive finance deals. The move towards online shopping and home deliveries is an important contributor to this growth – particularly that of large vans.”

According to the new UK Export Epicentres Report by FedEx Express, some of the least expected UK cities are doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to the number of SMEs actively involved in driving exports, and the attendant support services that requires.

The “Export Epicentres” and other key findings identified by the report include:

  • The majority of UK SMEs are doing business overseas, with Bradford leading the way with an 86% of SMEs involved in exporting
  • In terms of average monthly export sales, Portsmouth has a sizeable lead ahead of other UK cities, recording £1.95m per annum in export sales
  • Derby recorded the highest SME export growth rates over the last 12 months
  • 80% of SMEs who export believe that being a British brand gives them a competitive edge when it comes to exporting, rising to 90% of SMEs in Southampton, 88% in Portsmouth and 86% in Birmingham

“Now is the time to encourage UK SMEs to embrace their regional identities when building global relationships,” says Trevor Hoyle, Vice President, Northern Europe Operations, FedEx Express. “With over 30 years’ experience capitalising on market trends in the UK, we’ve seen first-hand the wealth of benefits available to a business even at the very start of their export journey. Our main aim is to give all Britain’s regions the support and guidance they need in order to help our customers compete on a global scale.”

The report also found that 94% of SMEs feel optimistic about the year ahead; with 8-in-10 saying they expect their export sales to increase again over the same time period.

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