International Trade

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Celebrity entrepreneur Myleene Klass backs British SME export drive

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While Klass may have started off in show business, the classical performer recognised a gap in the market back in 2008 after giving birth to her first daughter when trying to find a little black dress for young girls. 

She proceeded to launch children’s clothing line BabyK through Mothercare, and the brand can now be found in 32 countries, with parents buying the products for girls and boys aged up to eight.

“It is really inspiring meeting other entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. Successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common, they never give up. That’s why it is frustrating that so many businesses that could be exporting; aren’t doing so, and that’s why I am really pleased that Santander is committing to help 5,000 more companies start exporting this year,” said Klass.

“There is clearly a growing appetite among UK businesses to expand overseas and seize the benefits that can come from international trade, and this is great to see. However, it is also clear that a number of UK businesses may be unnecessarily hindering these opportunities, and here it is important to seek out advice and support from a trusted business partner.”

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Additionally, Klass is a Littlewoods brand ambassador, having teamed with the retailer on a range of clothing, lingerie & swimwear – the latter of which is said to sell an item every 15 minutes globally.

Santander’s goal is to provide businesses the advice and support needed to trade in new markets, and will launch a package a part of its commitment to do so. The bank’s campaign follows an initiative it launched in January to aid female entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

According to the company, six per cent of business owners claim their ultimate aim is international expansion, which is up from three per cent in 2013. Additionally, 22 per cent of SMEs with a £5m annual turnover target plan to become global businesses.

The problem of digital has reared its head yet again, however, once again demonstrating the skills gap issue. Some 26 per cent of companies that plan to expand overseas do not have a website and 57 per cent don’t have the means to accept online payments.

Big firms are keen to help out on the technological hurdles the companies face. Microsoft provided Real Business with a guide on how small businesses can improve their online presence earlier in March, while Facebook has launched online and real world learning centres to help entrepreneurs.

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