SME manufacturers are being urged to concentrate more of their efforts on sending goods overseas after a survey found almost half do not currently include exporting in their business plans.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) conducted a survey among 3,500 companies and found most only began to export after being approached by customers or distributors to do so.
But BCC director general David Frost said all firms should be taking advantage of a home EU market of 500m consumers to sell products and services to and said UK companies are lagging behind European competitors in this respect.
“Britain has some hugely successful exporters, both large and small, but we don’t have enough of them,” said Frost. “We need to explore why these companies are successful, what drives them, and what lessons can be learnt by other companies that have equally good products but do not see exporting as key.”
Lord Davies, Minister for Trade and Investment, backed the sentiment and pointed to research that he says shows “most businesses overestimate the risks and underestimate the benefits of exporting.”
“For UK businesses winning sales and beating the recession is too important to leave to chance,” said Davies. “Businesses need to take the time to think strategically and work out which overseas markets best suit their products.”
One of the key roles of the soon-to-be-combined Departments for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) will be to focus on ways to expand UK exports and encourage inward investment here.