Telling the truth about SME life today

Prince Charles to champion traditional exporting manufacturers

The Prince of Wales is visiting Jordans Mill in Biggleswade (Bedfordshire) today to meet six locally based companies, including a 300-year-old hat maker and a brewer with more than 100 years’ experience. The firms export to countries both within Europe and further afield including USA, UAE, and Japan.

The East of England has seen an 8.7 per cent growth of exports to countries outside the European Union at 12.11bn, accounting for 44 per cent of the region’s overall exports compared to 39 per cent a year ago.

The export section of the Prince’s visit to the region has been organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) as part of efforts to promote exporting and help the government achieve its target of getting up to 100,000 more SMEs to export. This would generate an extra 30bn for the UK economy.

“More and more companies are finding that there is a strong demand overseas for products that have both the heritage and badge of quality given by the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp.

“Today puts a group of top Bedfordshire exporters in the spotlight and I’m delighted we have the opportunity to showcase these companies as a sample of the best the county has to offer,” says Liz Basing, UKTI regional director for the East of England.

The companies that Prince Charles will meet have all received, or are about to receive, support from UKTI to export. They are:

  • Boatswain Lighting, which combines the beauty of porcelain and the latest technical lighting developments to produce lights that push the boundaries of this ancient material. Individual overseas customers include the Four Seasons Hotel, Marriott Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Boatswain is a UKTI Passport to Export customer.
  • Brinkley Propeller Services: one of the major facilities for aircraft propeller overhaul and repair in the UK. 
  • The Jordans & Ryvita Company, which makes cereals and crackers from the manufacturing facility adjacent to the Jordans Mill Heritage Centre at Holme Mills. Jordans purchases 80 per cent of ingredients (by volume) from UK farmers in the form of oats, rye, wheat and barley. The company’s products are enjoyed in over 60 countries.
  • Tusting and Burnett manufactures leather used in handbags, boots and small leather goods sold across the world. The great majority of the company’s sales come from export. 
  • Walter Wright has been involved in the making of quality ladies hats for over 300 years, making them one of the oldest “blood line” hat manufacturers in the world. The company designs and makes hats for individuals, film, theatre, television and supplies large and small department stores and boutiques world-wide. 
  • Charles Wells is the UK’s largest private brewery, with some of the nation’s best loved beers. Charles Wells exports to over 40 countries, an achievement that was marked by the company receiving the ‘Queen’s Award for Export Achievement’ in 1997. UKTI is working with this company as part of our Mid-Sized Business programme.

“I am looking forward to welcoming the Prince of Wales to our county and introducing him to the range of excellent businesses which thrive in our community,” says Helen Nellis, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire. “Jordans provides a wonderful setting in which to showcase the best of Bedfordshire.”

Last month UKTI launched a new national campaign, Exporting is GREAT, which is targeting almost 3 million people with the ambition of generating 3,000 appointments with UKTI Advisers and driving 1.2bn in export revenue from the leads it generates.

With businesses earning 100,000 on average in additional sales within 18 months of working with UKTI, there is significant growth potential for SMEs that start exporting.


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