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53% of UK SMEs export their goods and services

Over half of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are already exporting their goods and services overseas, according to the second annual FedEx Great British Export Report.

The study of 1,000 UK SME owners revealed that 53 per cent of small firms already export, while almost three-quarters (72 per cent) anticipate growing their international revenues during the next five years of trading.

The average small business in the UK exports £553,000 a year to Europe and imports £535,000 – an average net surplus of £18,000 for exporters.

British SMEs also export £714,000 outside of Europe on average and import just £410,000 – an average net surplus of £304,000 for global exports.

In the last 12 months, the number of small firms exporting at least 20 shipments a month across Europe has risen by almost a third (29 per cent).

The report found that the United States, Australia and China remain the most difficult markets to enter, with almost two-thirds (58 per cent) of respondents stating the need for greater support from Government and trade bodies to venture into these markets.

The main barriers to exporting for SMEs remain the overall costs involved, the prospect of losing money in currency exchange and fears about unpaid invoices. Interestingly, only one-in-five businesses consider breaking into new markets as “critical to success”.

In fact most British SMEs prefer to export to English-speaking nations or the nearest, as opposed to high-growth markets.

Almost all (96 per cent) of businesses that export choose to export within Europe, with around a third (35 per cent) doing business with the US.

However, almost no small firms export to fast growing economies such as Mexico and Indonesia.

Trevor Hoyle, vice president, Northern Europe Operations, FedEx Express, said: “British small and medium-sized businesses are a driving force in improving the economy.

“The report shows that they recognise how lucrative exporting can be for their business and as a result more are going global, actively helping to reduce the deficit.

“The businesses we help to go global are talking to us with a real sense of positivity and they understand there’s a whole world of customers out there to tap into.”

Image: Ikarasawa

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