WITH today being Australia Day, businesses across the West Midlands are being urged to explore the export opportunities which the country has to offer.
Ian Harrison, Head of Exports for the Midlands at the Department for International Trade (DIT), explains why firms should capitalise on export opportunities down under.
Australia and the UK have a long-lasting relationship with regard to sport, politics, culture and trade.
Businesses across the region are already soaring Aussie demand for British products.
According to the latest HMRC statistics, goods exports from the West Midlands totalled £649million in the year to November 2018.
Australia is the tenth largest market for the West Midlands.
There are many features that make Australia a market worth investigating for both current exporters and West Midlands businesses considering global expansion for the first time.
Just weeks ago our sister paper The Malvern Observer revealed how a jewellery maker from Malvern secured eight new export contracts in Australia and New Zealand following support from the Department of International Trade (DIT).
Julie Fountain, founder of Beach Art Glass, showcased the brand’s summer-themed accessories at Sydney’s International Jewellery Fair.
At the event she secured deals with six retailers across Australia and one in New Zealand, along with another on Norfolk Island.
A £3,000 grant from DIT contributed towards the cost of the stand at the event, as well as travel and accommodation.
The deal allows the business to drive year-round sales by tapping into the summer market in Australia and New Zealand when it is winter in the UK, and vice versa, with exports currently making up ten of its annual turnover.
DIT has also helped the business navigate the logistics of shipping goods, custom regulations and import duties.
And other businesses in the West Midlands could have similar success.
Here are Mr Harrison’s reasons for why local companies could have success ‘down under’.
Parallels and prospects
One distinct advantage for West Midlands businesses looking to trade down under are the similarities between the UK and Australia.
At the highest level, Australians and Brits share similar demands and expectations for products and services, while the same language, similar cultures and a shared history can also be tapped into by UK businesses.
The country also has a similar legal structure to the UK which helps increase the likelihood of a smooth market entry either directly or via a partnership with an Australian firm, alongside a strong commitment to intellectual property protection.
The seasonal advantage – delivering year-round demand
The Australian market, with its opposing seasons to the UK, offers an invaluable opportunity to boost sales for businesses that are subject to the peaks and troughs of a seasonal economy.
This may include food and drink producers, such as ice-cream or cider brands that see a dip in demand during the colder months, or manufacturers of products such as summer clothing or outdoor goods.
Having an export presence in the Southern Hemisphere will help firms such as these secure more consistent year-round sales – boosting profitability, increasing resilience and providing capital that can be re-invested to generate further growth.
Challenges and opportunities
As with all export markets, selling to Australia can come with its own set of challenges.
DIT is on hand to help businesses of all sizes navigate each stage of the export process, as well as advise on the best approach for them to enter the Australian market successfully.
This includes help identifying new, like-minded partners in-market, connecting you to our overseas teams and supporting market research to reduce the burden on small businesses who may not have dedicated staff focused on exporting.
The DIT also has a network of International Trade Advisers (ITAs) based across the West Midlands, who can offer one-to-one guidance on a range of export issues such as specific legal requirements or logistics options – a key consideration with more than 10,000 miles between the Midlands and Sydney.
What’s more, these ITAs work closely with colleagues based in Australia as part of a connected international network and can make introductions and give informed insights into local markets. I’m encouraging anyone interested to see how their company could benefit from global demand – including from Australia – to get in touch with my team today.
With DIT’s support, West Midlands firms can feel right at home on the other side of the world.
Any companies wanting more information about exporting to Australia should get in touch with the DIT which is there to help businesses make the most of overseas opportunities. To contact the DIT, call 0203 314 1289, visiting great.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org