Over 80 different Yorkshire-based companies have had access to advice on trading overseas from some of the regions most experienced exporters in the last 12 months since the launch of ExportExchange which is a free peer-to-peer overseas trade network for Leeds City Region businesses.
The programme, which is backed by the European Regional Development Fund, matches the would-be exporters with firms from the region who are already successfully selling their products or service overseas and can offer their advice to others for free on all aspects relating to exporting.
In a year since the programme was launched, 82 businesses have signed up to the ExportExchange network, which provides them with one-to-one advice and guidance from a group of 60 patrons, all of whom are highly experienced and are looking to supply others with their overseas exporting knowledge, with 23 of the businesses being referred to the Department for International Trade which can give them access to the Exporting for Growth funding, which is set up to help small business owners and entrepreneurs trade overseas.
One of the companies looking to benefit from the ExportExchange network is the Skipton-based confectionary firm Whitakers Chocolates, who supply millions of chocolates a week to retailers and restaurants. Their aim is to receive relevant advice on exploring overseas sales, Ian Webster, the firm’s sales manager got in contact with the ExportExchange patron Garry Neild, who is the international director of Taylors of Harrogate.
“As well as pointing us in the right direction on the best overseas markets and trade shows for Whitakers, Garry has also been an invaluable sounding board and support. It’s great to know that we can email him whenever something comes up that we need advice on,” said Mr Webster.
“It was tremendously useful meeting Garry and getting the sort of insight that only someone who has actually been there and done it can provide.” Whitakers now plans to exhibit at ISM Cologne, the world’s largest confectionery exhibition, in January.
Sweet Revolution, a healthy drinks producer based in Wetherby, has also received help in developing an export strategy with one-to-one advice from Harrogate Spring Water’s Greg Hatton, the firm’s export and new business manager.
Jane Nicholls, who founded the business in 2009, said:
“It’s early days for us in terms of exporting but it was so helpful to be able to talk things through with Greg via ExportExchange. He gave us some very useful tips, such as using the DIT’s free due diligence service, and also offered to help establish whether there is a market opportunity for our drinks range in Saudi Arabia.”
The network manager of ExportExchange, Victorian Boldison stated:
“In its first year ExportExchange has proved to be an essential resource for SMEs that are considering exporting. The importance for businesses of being able to access advice and information from firms such as Taylors and Harrogate Spring Water on how to make a success of selling overseas has been demonstrated many times over.
“We have more would-be exporters joining the programme all the time and I would urge anyone who is considering exports to register for free advice and support.”