DIT supports South West companies expand overseas despite impact of Covid-19

Two Department for International Trade (DIT) Export Champions in the South West have grown internationally during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the drive to level up businesses in the region.

Stewart Golf based in Quedgeley in Gloucester tripled its exports to the US during the pandemic due to the increase in demand for golf accessories and equipment as courses remained open in the states.

Mark Stewart, CEO of Stewart Golf said: “Golf as a sport has been one of the beneficiaries through COVID as its naturally social distanced and takes place outdoors, so equipment sales have really gone through the roof. We sold all our stock in about 6 weeks from March 2020.” There were also key decisions that were made before the pandemic which contributed to its success; DIT supported the company to set up in the US, introducing them to a third-party logistics company there. Mark said: “We wouldn’t have been able to launch into the US without the contact provided by the DIT. Being part of the Export Champion community has also been really valuable because we have support from other exporters and can learn from other businesses. By being involved with DIT, there’s always someone they can introduce you to who can help you achieve your goals.”

The company is now being supported by DIT to further grow its exports in the market through accessing funding to visit the US and focus on its marketing strategy there.

The company’s success comes as data reveals exports to the US have increased by approximately 9.6% since 2016. The US was also the UK’s largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2021 accounting for 16.7% of total UK trade, demonstrating a very strong trade connection between the two countries.

Crowd, based in Bournemouth, offers marketing services to clients across the world to help businesses achieve their goals and grow in international markets. The company has recently been featured on the UK Creative Industries Council’s ‘Ones to Watch’ list.

Jamie Sergeant, the founder of the company said: “With the help of DIT, we’ve built our own network and we’re now in seven different markets, including the US and Australia. The company’s export sales are expected to reach 13 million by 2024.”

In the four quarters to the end of Q1 2021, Australia was the UK’s 12th largest services export market.

Jamie says the company managed to grow during COVID as they adapted to the new digital landscape by offering new services to clients: “Where we were previously focused on aviation and travel, when coronavirus hit, we needed to reach and appeal to different sectors, so we decided to build our own virtual event platform.

“We needed to test it, so we put on an event in conjunction with the DIT called Exporting Excellence. During the three-day event we focused on six different sectors in six different markets.

“Our first client was the Ministry of Justice and we helped them with an African trade mission. This was a massive success and led to them winning a series of awards.

“From a sustainability standpoint, if you look at an average event pre-COVID, people would have been flying in from different countries. Now you can have far more people attending with a lot less damage to our planet. We’re doing a lot of work with brands helping them to tell stories about purpose and sustainability.”

Paul Shand, Head of Trade for DIT in the South West said: “The two companies’ success highlights the strong demand for high-quality UK goods and services overseas, and it’s great to see them thriving during a challenging time for business.

“Trade will play an important role in getting our economy back on track and these companies are a great example of how companies can look to lucrative overseas markets to boost their sales whilst creating more jobs.”

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