Trailblazing British businesses embrace international expansion opportunities

High growth companies have ambitious international growth plans over the next 12 months, according to new research from Santander Corporate & Commercial1.

The research found that trailblazing businesses – businesses which have experienced 20% revenue growth over the past 12 months or expect to do so over the next year – are more likely to trade internationally or have ambitions to do so when compared to their lower growth counterparts.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of these trailblazers already operate in overseas markets or intend to start exporting within the next 12 months, compared with 63% of businesses with slower levels of growth.

Looking forward, 50% are planning to increase their international sales in the year ahead, against less than a third (30%) of lower growth businesses. 

John Carroll, Head of International and Transactional Banking at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “Trailblazers are leading the way by grabbing the opportunities that are out there for British goods and services across international markets.  The desire to take risks, to have confidence in your product and your people puts businesses in the best position to succeed, especially at a time of economic uncertainty.  These attributes set the Trailblazers apart from their competitors.  Santander understands that taking the leap into new and untested waters can seem dauting, but we offer access to global expertise on how to take your product to new territories and secure new customers.”

The research shows, the Trailblazers are generally more positive in their outlook, for example on economic uncertainty, and less likely to see negatives from Brexit than lower-growth firms. A third of those surveyed expect Britain’s departure from the European Union to have a positive impact on their business, compared with just 9% of lower-growth firms.

Trailblazers still see the European Union as presenting the greatest opportunity for international growth (this aligns with the latest Santander Trade Barometer figures2). Nearly a third (31%) plan to increase sales in the EU over the coming year, with North America the second most popular region for international expansion (27%), compared with 15% of lower-growth firms, while 25% are looking to Asia versus 16% of lower growth firms.

In terms of strategies for achieving international growth, mergers and acquisition activity in a chosen market is the most popular choice (22%), followed by setting up a local subsidiary (18%). Other options for UK SMEs to begin or expand trading overseas are the use of ecommerce, local distributors or local agents (13%) and utilising the knowledge and networks of local partners such as banks and legal advisers (10%).

Helping SMEs to export is a core priority for Santander, utilising the wider Group’s presence in 10 core markets such as the US, Brazil and Mexico as well as alliance partnerships with other banks in countries like France, China, Singapore and India. Santander supports UK SMEs throughout their exporting experience by helping them to identify exporting opportunities using the Trade Portal, to participate in virtual and physical trade missions, to connect businesses with new customers and suppliers, to introduce them to the services they need when setting up internationally and with the knowledge of our specialist sector and international teams.  The breadth and scale of this international support is unique to Santander.

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