European SMEs look abroad for growth opportunities

Posted on 12 Jul 2011 by The Manufacturer

The Economist Intelligence Unit has published a report that shows smaller European companies are increasingly looking overseas for growth opportunities.

The report; ‘New horizons: Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses look to emerging markets for growth’ contains evidence indicating that it is not just large businesses that are investing in emerging markets, but small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) too.

The report examines the extent of European SME involvement in emerging markets, including those classified as BRIC economies. It looks at which markets they are choosing, why they are going there, and the opportunities and challenges that they are encountering. The report’s conclusions are based on the findings of a survey of over 600 executives from SMEs in Europe and more than 15 in-depth interviews.

Just fewer than 90% of those SMEs that responded to the survey confirmed that they had definite plans to invest outside of Europe in the coming year, and the majority of respondents have switched from trying to lower input costs to pursuing new customers overseas. The report also found evidence that the financial crisis served as a ‘catalyst’ for international expansion. The top 10 emerging markets that Europe’s SMEs plan to do business with in the coming year are, in order of preference: China, Brazil, India, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Czech Republic, Morocco, Romania and Turkey.

Jason Sumner, senior editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit and project director said: “Emerging markets still present risks for [European SMEs], but our research shows that the potential to find new customers is causing many to take the plunge.”

George Archer