Breakthrough Trade Mission to Brazil 2014

Six UK companies made invaluable contacts in one of the world’s most dynamic markets

Researching a potential export market from behind a comfortable desk is no substitute for actually visiting a country and meeting contacts face-to-face. Breakthrough’s latest Trade Mission to Brazil – organised by Santander with the support of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) – gave six UK business leaders the opportunity to do just that. The six-day trip took place in the vibrant cities of São Paulo – the capital of Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous state – and Rio de Janeiro – widely regarded as the country’s financial capital. Here delegates were given the freedom to explore the export opportunities on offer within one of the world’s most dynamic markets. They returned home having not only struck deals, but also received the information and contacts required to carry out their trade ambitions to the full.

John Williams, Head of Breakthrough at Santander, believes Brazil is a natural choice for British companies looking to broaden their business horizons. “Brazil has a strong industrial, business and consumer base, which presents immense potential for SMEs planning to expand or export into this South American country,” he says.

Brazil means business

The country’s market statistics speak for themselves. Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy, with a GDP of US$2.2 trillion as of 2014. It is also the UK’s largest trading partner in Latin America, with a bilateral trade in goods worth £5.1 billion. Over the past four years, UK exports to Brazil have grown by 20% reaching £2.5 billion in 2013.

“The Trade Mission is genuinely going to energise my own activity and supercharge the company’s growth strategy.” Ross Hunter, MD, Copylab

However, the Breakthrough Trade Mission looked beyond such top-line figures and provided delegates with an in-depth analysis of the Brazilian economy from a Santander expert. Adriana Dupita, Senior Economist for Santander Brazil, briefed the delegates on the first working day of the trip. She explained that although the recent explosive growth of Brazil’s economy has now slowed, steady, sustainable growth will continue and that means plenty of opportunities for ambitious British businesses.

Overcoming obstacles

As with any overseas market, of course, there are legal and tax issues to consider. Brazil has high import duties, which can become a barrier to trade unless one is prepared. Drawing upon their considerable local presence, Santander arranged a talk by experienced local professionals, who provided a wealth of information on the legal and tax implications of doing business in the country.

Delegates also learnt about Brazilian business culture, which is often based on relationships and personal referrals. In this regard, the presence and support of both Santander and UKTI enabled the delegates to open doors that may otherwise have taken months to prise open.

Seeking success in South America

The six delegates chosen to join the Trade Mission represented businesses offering a broad range of products and services. CaféPod (CEO Peter Grainger) makes coffee capsules for the Nespresso system. Copylab (MD Ross Hunter) provides writing and editing services to clients including BlackRock and Aegon. CorDEX Instruments (owner Gary Copeland) manufactures explosion-proof inspection and imaging devices. Huub Design (founder Dean Jackson) makes wetsuits and triathlon clothing. Tower Transit (Chairman Neil Smith) provides road and marine transport services. Unique Secure (Sales Director Gordon Frewin) provides smart device payment systems.

“They were fantastic individuals from fantastic businesses and they brought that dynamic to the group,” says Breakthrough’s Senior Events Manager Paula Kemp. “They began networking as soon as they got on the plane, sharing information about grants and applying for local awards. That feeling of being part of a ‘Trade Mission Club’ means connections are maintained once delegates return home.” 

Breakthrough opens doors

As well as all-important networking within the group, Paula highlights four factors that maximised the benefits of this trip to delegates – factors that can be applied to all Breakthrough Trade Missions:

  • Quality of pre-mission research results in real opportunities with key decision makers
  • The relationship with UKTI in the UK and overseas is critical
  • Having an international partner, such as Santander, is crucial to making worthwhile connections
  • Santander’s support adds unbelievable strength to an SME’s brand.

With over 3,800 branches in Brazil serving 27.3 million customers, Santander has a considerable business network in the country, and this enabled the Breakthrough team to arrange a wide range of networking events with Brazilian companies, all looking to promote trade with the UK. 

Each delegate also received individual meetings with carefully chosen contacts. Gary Copeland of CorDEX Instruments was impressed by this tailored response. “All of the many people I have met this week immediately understood that CorDEX is serious in its efforts to penetrate this market,” he says. “This is due in large part to the positive reaction to, and credibility that is derived from, being supported by Santander and UKTI as part of this Mission.”

But Gary wasn’t the only delegate to score a win during the Trade Mission. Gordon Frewin of Unique Secure discovered that the Brazilian market for his products is potentially three times the size of that in the UK; he has already identified a potential distributor in Brazil. Ross Hunter of Copylab says the Trade Mission, “has given us a platform to jump-start our thinking about doing business in Brazil and reach a significant portion of our potential client-base very quickly.” CaféPod’s Peter Grainger is looking forward to becoming the first British coffee brand to sell coffee to Brazil, while Dean Jackson of Huub Design believes the Trade Mission will result in an additional £1 million of turnover for his business.

Ross Hunter of Copylab perhaps speaks for all his fellow delegates when he concludes: “The Trade Mission is genuinely going to energise my own activity and supercharge the company’s growth strategy.” 

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