The UK economy has received welcome news during UKTI's Export Week, with The British Chambers of Commerce reporting strong Q1 overseas trade figures for UK manufacturers and record export levels for service sector businesses.
To recognise the significant contribution these companies make in helping the UK economy compete on a global scale, Aldermore's latest budding businesses blog celebrates five great SME export success.
Initially, restaurant owners and sisters Janet, Helen and Lisa Tse began their sideline operation selling sauces in response to a customer requesting to take away their product as a gift for his mother. Soon though, their sauce's popularity turned this extra activity into a major international operation, with the sisters gaining access to distributors as far afield as Russia, Australia and the Middle East through attending trade shows with UKTI.
This impressive growth also led Sweet Mandarin to be chosen as one of 100 small businesses invited to join the Prime Minister on a trade mission to China in December, with Lisa Tse reporting: "We are now hoping to grow over the next five years to distribute Sweet Mandarin sauces in 190 countries."
Taking advantage of the warm local micro-climate, Cornish firm Tregothnan has literally begun selling tea to China, from the UK's only commercial tea farm.
"We're now on course to be an 80 per cent export business," Tregothnan garden director Jonathan Jones recently told the Guardian, after a Chinese documentary caused overseas interest in the business to rocket. "They love that we're putting the Englishness back into English tea," Jones adds.
Surrey-based creative content firm Smart Cookie are another SME that have benefitted from UKTI's help in recent years, tripling its headcount to 40 and growing turnover to £3.3 million thanks to an introduction to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
The company's most notable international project to date has been an on-board film for American Airlines, which will be seen by 48 million people.
"Exporting was a key pillar of my business, Tangle Teezer, from the word go," ambitious founder Shaun Pulfrey admitted recently in a Guardian guest piece.
The driven entrepreneur has taken his innovative hair brush model across the globe, with the Chinese market alone now placing around 300 orders a day, earning Tangle Teezer a spot in the government's Business is Great showcase. "
One piece of advice that I would give from my experience is that there isn't a barrier to export that can't be overcome with the right help and advice," Pulfrey states, encouraging other SMEs to follow in Tangle Teezer's footsteps.
When Chris Ives, founder of traditional Yorkshire ale producer Ilkley Brewery, first considered exporting in 2012, his focus was mainly centred around Western markets including Europe and the US.
Indeed, the brand has found success in the states, even gaining an order from the renowned Plaza hotel in New York, but Ives has also taken part in trade missions further afield, exploring the high-growth markets of Brazil.
Aldermore welcomes the support Export Week is delivering for UK SMEs and hopes to see many more small firms following the initiative these five inspiring firms are taking to grow their businesses on an international scale.