British Promotional Gift Suppliers seek overseas opportunities

Phil Morgan, the CEO of SPS, sees fertile ground for British exporters.

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, parliamentarians launched a manifesto calling for their successors in government to take the “necessary steps” to ensure the UK becomes a global leader in manufacturing.

Currently, only 20% of UK SMEs are involved in exports, compared to a 25% EU average, according to, with the UK ranking 11th globally for manufacturing. 

While the figures don’t promise a return to domination over global markets, they do show a fertile landscape of opportunities in EU and BRIC markets. The government proposes to double UK exports by 2020, with ongoing initiatives like UK Export Finance (UKEF) providing a foothold.

It seems British manufacturing even commands a premium – with ‘Made In Britain’ labels gaining a much higher price than other attributions. The same Barclays-commissioned report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that at least 50% of respondents in all countries perceived the quality of British goods to be “good” or “very good”.

It is worth noting that promotional products have a mantle to carry here. Whether that’s to bolster brand awareness or thank public sector staff, promotional products are the calling cards of quality that saturate every industry.

SPS has benefited from consistent growth and profitability over 25 years, with 10 years of exporting ‘Made
in Britain’ quality products. We invest continually in new technology and processes. What’s more, this self-investment is also a vote of confidence in the British economy and workforce; providing a platform for training and R&D to take place, while acting as a spokesperson in global markets.

As CEO of a British manufacturer, I have a lot of tales of the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to exporting your products. First and foremost, it’s important to know where you’re going, for one thing. It may sound obvious, but select the priority countries you want to target, rather than going after ‘Europe’ as a whole.

Local representatives with local knowledge and expertise are absolutely worth the investment – whether through partnerships or employment. Good translations, carried out by native speakers with relevant experience will also make a massive difference, and help to avoid potential offensive or embarrassing translations!

The investment in marketing and maintaining relationships should not be underestimated. It can take a lot of time, trial and error before things click and you start making progress. There is a wealth of support available, however, to help companies manage. Chambers of Commerce, UKTI and, of course, the bpma, all offer a wealth of guidance.

Most of all, as a promotional products manufacturer in Britain, we should be outward facing ambassadors for British industry as a whole. Quality is paramount. 

The climate is improving and support is in place to help SMEs take advantage of the Brand Britain USP. Use it with pride.

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