Fast moving consumer goods in a fast moving global market
As a new International Trade Adviser (ITA) for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), it is my role to help British firms in the consumer goods sector access the bounty of demand that is out there. The field of consumer goods is as diverse as it is lucrative for the British economy: from the chemicals industry to perfumery, from soft drinks to toiletries, Britain has a reputation for quality, reliability and competitive pricing which puts us streets ahead of the competition.
Having originally entered this sector when I was trained at Unilever in the 1980s, I have developed an extensive background in sales and marketing - spending ten years working in first the chemicals and then the perfume industries before moving into international account management, securing export sales across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. From my time in the sector it's clear that our exporting success overseas is largely down to the universal appeal of the British brand. Combined with the tireless innovation of small and medium sized enterprises up and down the country, the UK has a great deal to offer.
Examples of the kind of demand out there for British consumer goods are countless. The luxury goods sector, for instance, is already expected to earn £9.1bn in export revenue in 2015, with high end retailers particularly in France and Japan looking to expand their stock of British products. The Nordic region is also a lucrative market for high end UK goods, with a dynamic and educated population of 25 million who are willing and able to pay a premium for high quality products and services. With the region importing almost all of its consumer goods, there are plenty of opportunities for exporters across the board.
Other examples abound across the world. In China, for instance, a fashion purchasing company is looking to introduce UK luxury apparel brands to their portfolio with a view to selling the products in their stores across the Congqing region of the country. Further demand in Sweden for British shoes, and in the United Arab Emirates for uniforms, are among a catalogue of opportunities that firms across the country can grab with both hands.
What is clear is that the world is hungry for this country's consumer goods. Whilst this is great to hear, there still remains untapped potential among the UK's small and medium sized businesses to exploit these global export opportunities, with 90 per cent of firms either not exporting or trading only with close European neighbours. That's where UKTI, and particularly Trade Advisers like myself, can help. Whether you're just starting out or already an established exporter, UKTI can help you meet your potential in the global marketplace.
As UKTI International Trade Advisers, it is our job to apply our experiences in international trade to provide expertise, advice and support to businesses looking to expand their operations overseas. We have locally based advisers in your area to introduce you to new markets, help you with market research, enable you to reduce your risks and build a bespoke export plan suited to your business.
The huge numbers of events we hold every year are a great place to start and to learn more about what we offer. For instance, earlier in the year our 'Doing Business in Luxury Consumer Goods' workshop gave companies the opportunity to learn about international e-commerce and online retail; overseas exhibitions and tradeshow opportunities as well as insights from experts in Finland, Norway, Japan and Sweden.
And this wasn't a one-off. Throughout the year, UKTI offers a huge range of events designed to get your firm trading in the international marketplace, as well as export-boosting programmes such as the 'Passport to Export' scheme which can get your company on the road to trading abroad. This is on top of regular trade missions across the globe, covering a wide range of sectors. The schemes and events we offer can provide companies with a robust export plan. We can help to research markets, put you in touch with local Embassies and in-market experts, work locally to find business leads and give advice and tips on local business culture and etiquette.
I urge all companies who are considering taking the next step on their business journey to engage with the support available from UKTI, work with our specialist advisers and be one of 100,000 new exporters UKTI aims to create in the next five years.
The first step is clear: pick up the phone and call UKTI on 08452 789 600 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our excellent trade advisers and begin your exciting journey towards international success.
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