More than half of British exporters (58%) believe profitability will increase this year, despite political volatility in the eurozone and Ukraine, according to a report released today by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and DHL Express.
The Trade Confidence Index, which measures UK exporting activity and business confidence of more than 2,300 exporting firms, also revealed four out of five exporters (81%) tried to recruit staff at the end of last year.
The volume of trade documentation index issued by Accredited Chambers of Commerce increased to 117.43, demonstrating that UK businesses are growing internationally and breaking into new markets overseas.
The highest increase in exporting activity was recorded in Wales, London and Yorkshire & the Humber.
BCC director general, John Longworth commented: “British exporters are rising to the challenge despite the uncertain global outlook; however, we are yet to see this translate into stronger trade and current account figures.”
The key findings from the report are
- The majority of exporters (58%) expect their profitability to increase over the next 12 months;
- Manufacturing firms are more confident about improving their turnover than they were last quarter (66%, compared to 61% in Q3 2014);
- A third of exporters (36%) reported increases in export sales compared with only 18% who said they fell;
- Recruitment intentions have increased, with more than four out of five exporting businesses trying to recruit staff (81%, compared to 75% in Q3 2014);
- A third of exporting firms reported that the exchange rate is having an impact on their ability to trade globally (35%, compared to 29% last quarter);
- The highest increase in exporting activity was recorded in Wales, London and Yorkshire & the Humber.
“We know that when businesses do export, they grow, on average, 20% more than businesses that don’t. With the vast majority of exporters looking to take on additional staff, they are generating growth and prosperity for the nation.
“In spite of these positive figures, now is not the time for complacency as the government’s ambitious export target is a steep hill to climb.
“If we are to make real progress towards rebalancing the economy, the business community and the government must work in partnership to step change our approach to supporting existing and potential exporters.
“To link more UK businesses to the vast opportunities around the world, we must foster the development of potential exporters, many of whom are unable to access finance even before they are able to consider global expansion.
“Strengthening the UK’s international trade performance must be a top priority for any incoming government.”
Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland, noted: “The findings are particularly encouraging as they come during a period of relative uncertainty.
“British exporters are defying the odds, overcoming these challenges and capitalising on the huge demand for British products across and beyond Europe.
“Building on this growth and confidence is imperative. Steps are being taken by Government to support exporters, particularly SMEs, who are less able to ride the trends of the economic cycle than their larger counterparts.
“If the UK is going to successfully rebalance its economy it is crucial that businesses are equipped with the information and resources they need.
“Understanding the existing resources available for UK SMEs, such as the British Chamber of Commerce, UKTI, and DHL’s Export Advisor Service is an important first step for SMEs.”