Cumbria businesses learn how to export at special academy

BUSINESSES bidding to launch or supercharge their export plans attended a special masterclass where experts told them ‘you can do this’.

Ambitious companies from the county were joined by their counterparts from across the north west for the event at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal.

Delegates took part in a series of sessions designed to help them begin to export their goods or services – or to take their existing activity to new levels.

The Export Academy course was delivered by the government’s Department for International trade, supported by the Cumbria LEP.

Expert: International Trade Advisor, Chris Baxter

International Trade Advisor, Chris Baxter, said: “We want to help businesses in Cumbria to understand that exporting is within their reach; it’s often a case of taking the first step by getting in touch to see how we can assist.

“At the recent Export Academy in Kendal, we had a diverse range of businesses in attendance; everything from service-led consultancies to product-based companies. 

“The support we offer is varied and tailored to the needs and ambitions of each respective business. Some are at the beginning of their export journey and are simply wanting to find out more. Others are advanced and are at the point where they are looking for funding support to help them execute their export plans.

“The message is that we are here to help and I encourage businesses looking to access overseas markets to get in touch.”

A variety of sectors were represented by businesses at the Export Academy. Among them were an owner-managed premium soft drinks manufacturer, an artisan jewellery company, a health technology consultancy firm and a cake manufacturer.

Sessions at the Export Academy covered a range of issues including routes to market, international trade procedures and identifying the benefits and barriers of exporting.

The session was rounded off with a workshop during which participants created their own export plans, based on what they had learned over the course of the day.

In depth: Delegates discuss exporting and start to build their own plans

Export champions joined the sessions as guest speakers to share how their companies had benefited from international trading.

Jayne Moorby, the marketing manager at Oxley, an Ulverston-based company that designs and manufactures components for the defence and aerospace sector.

The company began exporting in the 1970s and now sells its LED lighting and high-specification components across five continents.

She said: “Exporting is a huge part of life at Oxley and represents over 80% of our revenue. We’ve been doing it for years and the business has not looked back since its very first deal in the international market.

“What’s really important to remember is that every exporter’s journey must begin somewhere. Very few start with a bang; it’s more a case of building a strategy and slowly gaining momentum.

“Selling a product or service to an overseas market can seem daunting, but there is so much help and support out there, both from the Department of International Trade and from the network of other businesses already exporting.

“Taking the first step may feel like the hardest part of the process, but it’s actually so easy. I say that based on many conversations I have had with fellow exporters over the years who have built successful international trade networks after taking that first step.

Export Champion: Jayne Moorby of Oxley discusses export strategies with attendees

“My advice is very simple. Tap into the support that is here, free and available to all businesses.”

A suite of support is available for businesses in Cumbria, ranging from support from international trade advisors to Export Academy training and match-funded grants of up to £9,000 from the Internationalisation Fund.

The next Export Academy is a series of digital seminars commencing on April 26 and comprises 10 one-hour sessions.

Cumbria businesses wishing to sign up or to access further free support and guidance should contact Sarah Peak, the Department for International Trade’s Export Manager for Cumbria on sarah.peak@tradenw.org

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