Midlands carries the rest of England for exports since 2011

Posted on 23 Oct 2013

Exports from the West Midlands have increased by 30% since Q1 2011, and by 15% from the East Midlands, while the average rise for the whole of England in this period is only 2%, national statistics can reveal.

An analysis of the export performance of England’s regions reveals a heavily skewed distribution since the first quarter 2011, with the West Midlands way out in front.

The manufacturing-centric region has recorded a thumping 30% rise in exports from Q1 2011 to Q2 2013, with the East Midlands up 15% and the South West up 10%. Yorkshire and the Humber follows with 7%.

Bringing up the rear for exports are the North West and North East with a balance of -12% for both, over this specific period.

The two regions, which also have strong manufacturing bases, showed isolated quarters of strong growth – such as the North West in Q3 2012, with 14% growth in exports – but big falls in specific quarters brought their average export performance down. For example, exports from the North West slumped 19% in Q2 2013.

The West Midlands, conversely, has only posted two quarters when exports shrank on the previous quarter, in the whole period comprising nine quarters. In the fourth quarter of 2012 exports grew by 13%, a trend that has carried through 2013 with the third quarter figures due out soon.

“The is some magic at work in this region,” said Paul Noon OBE, director of UK Trade & Investment West Midlands, in Birmingham. “Some of this is driven by Jaguar Land Rover, of course, and JCB. But it is not only their supply chains that are exporting, there seems to be a stronger ‘go get’ mentality here now than hitherto, and different types of companies are finding ways to exports.”

Exports in England's regions 2011-2013
Exports from England's regions 2011-2013

West Midlands companies in very different sectors are getting their products overseas.

Clayton Equipment, understood to be Britain’s last manufacturer of mining locomotives, has been making the engines for over 80 years. The firm has been on UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth programme, and has used the government agency’s Market Visit Support and Tradeshow Access Programmes for international mining exhibitions. The company sells all around the world but more recently into Peru – for a high altitude mining project – Argentina, Mexico, Philippines, China, Bolivia, and France.

Clinigen, the pharmaceutical and services firm, is another local business growing through exports. In 2011 the Burton-on-Trent based company was recognized as the fasting-growing private company in the UK by the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100.

It now has offices in the UK, US and Japan, serving more than 50 markets globally with a wide customer base of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and contract research groups. Clinigen launched on the London Stock Exchange October 2012 and raised £10 million for international business development.

Regional export table
Regional exports, England from Q1 2011 to Q2 2013

Beyond Jaguar Land Rover, other West Midlands companies on the export track include micro gas turbine manufacturer Bladon Jets, Indestructible Paints, Goodyear Dunlop and Xtrutech, a small company that makes and services twin-screw extruders and exports 50% of product to Germany, Spain, Turkey, North America and other countries.

“If it keeps going in this direction and at this rate, the region may even be on track to post a net trade surplus by year end 2014, a situation that has not happened for perhaps decades,” Mr Noon added.