Bosses of firms big and small speak up to encourage more to export

Imran Hassan, Ciaran Convey of Warwick firm Areal, John Nollett, Parminder Hayer, Ruth Shaw and Brian Mountford
Imran Hassan, Ciaran Convey of Warwick firm Areal, John Nollett, Parminder Hayer, Ruth Shaw and Brian Mountford
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Two Rugby companies are taking their goods and services to more and more overseas markets with the support of a local business organisation.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held an international trade breakfast to highlight the successes of three local firms - including two from Rugby - on the global stage and to encourage more firms to export.

John Nollett, the head of the Chamber’s international trade forum, said that Coventry and Warwickshire - through the work of the UKTI team based at the Chamber’s International Trade Hub –- was punching above its weight when it comes to exports.

And Ruth Waugh, the international business development director for Rugby-based Twintec Flooring, said support from the Chamber’s UKTI team meant it was now trading in 22 countries – from Thailand to Saudi Arabia.

The company, which lays ‘jointless’ concrete floors for new buildings, employs 350 staff and turns over £220 million.

Ruth said: “Over the years, we have tapped into the support from UKTI and it has helped us to grow our business overseas.

“We saw the construction industry was taking a wobble a few years ago in this country and we knew we had to look abroad to grow.

“The way we operate differs from country to country. In some, we take all of our staff and plant over and then bring it all back again once the job is complete. In others, like South Africa, we’ve opened a branch.

“It’s been a great help just to be able to filter everything through Brian Mountford, our adviser, so he can give his view on what we are doing.”

Imran Hassan, co-founder of Rugby-based children’s clothing brand Lilly & Sid – which only launched in 2009, said the return on investment for the service was phenomenal.

He said: “I really just want to show other businesses that if someone like me can export, then anyone can!

“The support is there. When we commissioned our first OMIS report, my first instinct was that this was a lot of money for a small business to be spending.

“Within three months of that report we were in every Harvey Nichols store in South Korea so the return was huge. We had a similar report into Hong Kong and, again, we are in the Harvey Nichols there too.

“Like every business person, I am reticent to spend any money but the return on investment is phenomenal. Not only that but having someone there to mentor you through and bounce ideas off really helps.

“Of course the product is everything and we are certainly helped by the fact that there is a real interest in British brands overseas – we maybe underestimate that as a country.

“And we’ve recently ‘internationalised’ our website. We commissioned an Export Communication Review from UKTI to guide our approach and, within a month of going live, we’d generated £20,000 worth of sales in Germany.”