Opinion

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Research is key to breaking into international markets

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Venturing into a new market can be filled with challenges making it unsurprising that many businesses to hold back. However, for a company to truly grow they must start thinking internationally to stay ahead of the competition. 

At Lietcorp we pride ourselves on the knowledge that we deliver the best in quality, design and manufacture in our products. It is through this guarantee we have developed international relationships in not only a number of import nations, but also countries typically associated with exports. 

In order to achieve this, we faced a number of hurdles and it was only through significant research and consequently an in depth knowledge of the United Arab Emirates marketplace, that we were able to succeed. 

It is critical that any business wishing to expand overseas builds a detailed understanding of their country of choice, including fundamental business issues such as the nature of the competition they may face. Furthermore details of supply chains, the demand for their services and any possible legal issues that they may come up against is crucial. 

In particular, I would strongly recommend using local expertise. We work with freight forwarding and logistic agencies in each country we export to because they understand the market inside out. 

They know which forms to fill in, how they need to be completed, which taxes and duties are due, and how the process of getting goods off the ship and to customers works in their region. If this goes wrong, shipments can be refused and left sitting in a port.

After overcoming these challenges we began our first venture into international markets and most recently provided the third largest mall in Dubai, the Dubai Festival City Mall, with a lighting re-fit. We were able to secure this deal, not only through our strong understanding of the market but also because we offer a competitive product, a quality which is being recognised as a mark of excellence. 

Our exports now account for up to 20 per cent of our turnover, and as we continue to expand in Germany, Spain, Asia and the Middle East this figure will only grow. 

Once the central hub of the industrial revolution and global leader of the export market, Britain has now been overtaken by other countries that offer quick and cheap alternatives. In particular, cheap LED imports have given our industry an unfair reputation. 

However, through my own experience I believe this trend is reversing and markets are once again looking to import from Britain as they begin to associate British-made with excellent quality, reliability and exceptional design. 

I am not alone in my belief and there has been a recent global appetite for quintessentially British goods, heightened by the Olympics and royal births. 

This has been supported by larger retailers such as Marks and Spencer launching its ‘Best of British’ range and John Lewis introducing hundreds of home-grown products, highlighting an emerging trend of brands throwing their weight behind British manufacturing. In addition recent PMI data shows UK manufacturing is growing at its fastest rate in two years.

British businesses need to capitalise on international trade which will subsequently benefit the UK economy. However it is essential that they are provided with the necessary support and education from our government to make it a reality. 

Through a better understanding of international rules, regulations and marketplaces, companies will stand a much stronger chance when attempting to crack these global opportunities.

Mark Blythe is the founder of Lietcorp,a specialist in innovative LED technologies

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