Bibby Financial Services

Are UK SMEs sceptical over export opportunities?

Almost two-thirds of small- and medium-sized businesses (66%) only trade domestically, according to the latest research.

The SME confidence tracker from Bibby Financial Services (BFS) revealed that just 20% of SMEs both imported and exported, while 7% imported only and the same figure exclusively sold goods and services overseas.

Of those businesses that were not currently exporting, two-fifths expressed no interest in doing so, while 28% believed that the goods and services they provided were not suited to international markets.

In addition, just one in 10 SMEs (10%) planned to invest in their international trade capability between April and July.

Commenting on the findings, Kash Ahmad, specialist director at BFS (pictured above), said: “The ‘Made in Britain’ stamp is a sign of quality assurance worldwide and has huge credibility in overseas markets.

“However, our research shows that many small- and medium-sized businesses are either sceptical over the benefits of exporting, or do not believe their goods and services can be sold internationally.”

The SME confidence tracker report surveys UK business owners across manufacturing, wholesale, transport, services and construction sectors on a quarterly basis.

Research conducted by BFS in November 2017 revealed that the US, Germany and France were the most important markets to UK business exporters, while China, Germany and the US were most important to Britain’s importers.

Kash continued: “There are fantastic support services to help SMEs overcome the complexities of trading internationally from organisations such as the Institute of Export and International Trade and the British Exporters Association.

“However, it is clear that smaller businesses need further help in identifying opportunities to grow by trading internationally, and – importantly – support in understanding which international markets their goods and services could appeal to.”


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