Exporting SMEs urged to plan long-term

Small and medium sized businesses who trade internationally have been urged to plan for the months and years ahead to take advantage of the global economy opening back up, according to a new report.

The collaborative work across Coventry and Warwickshire to help SMEs with their exporting and importing is highlighted by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub and Department for International Trade (DIT) joining forces on a series of 1-to-1 clinics to offer specialist advice on key issues such as the new VAT rules, supply chain management and import procedures.

The DIT is advising firms that need help with their export strategy to get in touch to sign-up to its new Export Academy initiative for new exporters or to be introduced to a local International Trade Adviser to develop their international strategy and tap into a wide variety of support.

There is also information available from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce which has a dedicated customs and logistics adviser and has launched its new Customs Declaration Service.

All this is the focus of the latest CWLEP Growth Hub SmartRegion report which gathers information from Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, the CWLEP and other organisations which is this month analysing the international trade issues currently impacting businesses and the opportunities available to those already importing and exporting, or looking to do so.

James Ahearne, Strategic Partnership Manager at the DIT, said firms in the region should take advantage of the opportunities that have arisen from the collaborative work of the area’s business support organisations and the DIT.

He said: “Coventry and Warwickshire really does have a fantastic business support eco-system and I’m pleased to say that over the last few years, the organisations within the region really have upped their game.

“Companies will need forward-thinking strategies for how they will manage their supply chains and customs and logistics processes in the months and years ahead.

“But whilst we have been through a period of disruption, we know there are huge opportunities out there for Coventry and Warwickshire firms as the global economy opens back up and economic stimulus packages kick in.

“One positive from the slowdown due to Covid-19 has been that it allowed businesses time to take a step back and look at international trade in a strategic and pro-active way.

“We’ve seen strong and sustained demand for our services and, in particular, for our export training workshops over the last year and a half as businesses have looked at what markets they export to, where the demand will be in the future, and critically the methods they use to ship their goods.”

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said SMEs are the backbone of Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy which was highlighted in the CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework.

He said: “There are many benefits to trading internationally for SMEs because it can lead to new customers in new markets as well as diversifying which, as we have seen throughout the pandemic, has been key for companies in all sectors.

“It is really important that businesses plan ahead and think strategically about their international supply chains, delivery timescales, and the processes and costs involved to prevent storing up future problems.

“There is a great deal of advice and support available for experienced exporters along with those considering trading in overseas markets for the first time so don’t hesitate to contact the Growth Hub and one of our team will provide the support that is needed to make the most of the help that is available.”