SMEs want more export support

More than one third of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) think exports are important for growth but only one quarter are active overseas, research by FedEx Express has found.

The report surveyed 1,000 UK SMEs and revealed that 35% see overseas markets as an essential growth opportunity for the next 12 months.

However, 51.9% of respondents said they needed more support to achieve their international goals.

The report found that:

  • 41% of current exporters expect their trade to be mostly international within 5 years
  • firms in the manufacturing sector are most likely to export (59%)
  • 32% of SMEs in London and the South West export, compared to just 13% in Scotland
  • more than 80% of SMEs in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool don't export
  • China (21%) and Russia (16%) are seen as the most difficult markets to enter.

Trevor Hoyle, vice president FedEx Express UK and Ireland, said:

"Now is the time for UK businesses to prepare for the internationalisation of their activities. This will allow them to get off to a flying start on the global stage and succeed in driving the UK economy forward, as long as they have access to the correct support required to help propel them to continuing international success."

A recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also found that many SMEs are struggling to access support for exporting.

The poll of 2,500 firms found that 78% have difficulty finding support.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said:

"Our research shows that, despite best efforts, our members continue to be frustrated in their attempts to expand overseas. It is vital that UK's small firms receive the right support, not just their medium-sized or larger counterparts, and that it is maintained for the long term."