Growing Global: opportunities for UK businesses in a post-Brexit world

Santander’s Head of SME International Mark Collings discusses why exporting to new global markets may provide businesses with new and exciting growth prospects following June’s Brexit vote.

It’s fair to say many businesses were surprised by the UK’s decision in June to leave the EU. Since then, we’ve seen an endless stream of polls, commentaries, opinions and predictions as to what the UK's future relationship with the EU will look like.

Much remains to be decided. And until the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the UK's exit has been negotiated, EU law will continue to apply in the UK and there’ll be no immediate change in the way people move or trade.

But that doesn’t mean businesses can’t start to plan for a new era in international trade. With the right support, there are many opportunities waiting to be seized.

So, what should really be going through a business’s mind post the Brexit decision?

Thinking globally

For many businesses with ambitious growth plans, a post-Brexit shift in strategy could actually provide a boost to their long-term prospects. How? By looking to trade in other markets beyond the EU.

Government statistics show that 11% of UK businesses are more likely to survive if they trade globally – and a third of them are more productive in their first year alone. UK exports to non-EU countries are currently growing faster than exports to the EU, and many of these markets – from established players such as the US to emerging markets like India and the UAE – will become even more important as it becomes easier to do business with them than with their EU counterparts.

But we understand that entering new markets can sometimes seem daunting. Our own clients are already asking very valid questions, such as how do we identify the right markets? How do we source new and reliable trading partners? And how do we ensure we get paid?

Getting connected

For many businesses, it all comes down to finding the right support. The support of trade networks and partners that can help UK exporters make the right connections. To help them access the best talent that they need in markets that may not be instantly relatable to them.

It’s about having that support on the ground, having confidence that your partners are reliable and able to offer genuine trading opportunities. And for SMEs in particular, it’s about having that local knowledge and actively pursuing supply chain opportunities.

That’s where scale is critical. As the largest international bank with 12,900 branches worldwide, Santander takes pride in being able to offer a truly local presence around the world.

We also have partnerships with alliance banks and organisations that can offer the trust a UK exporter needs. In established markets like the US, that means being able to quickly lock down trading opportunities, like when our Trade Portal helped Herefordshire’s Chase Distillery connect with large supermarkets across America.

Meanwhile in emerging markets, it’s about having the relevant partners who can offer direct support on the ground. For example, in the UAE, our partnership with the British Centre for Business allows UK food and drink companies to get their products on to the shelves of LuLu Hypermarket – the largest supermarket chain in the country.

So, if you’re an ambitious business looking to grow, don’t automatically think of the barriers that Brexit could present. By finding the right partners and the right support, embracing the opportunities might be easier than you think.

How Santander helps businesses think global post-Brexit

1. Connectivity
With presence in 14 core markets and partnerships with alliance banks in many more, Santander can help you make the right connections wherever your exporting takes you.

2. Talent
We are well placed to support the talent development of UK businesses through our internship programme with many UK universities, as well as our approved recruitment partners in overseas markets.

3. Support on the ground
With 12,900 branches globally, we have true knowledge and understanding of local markets, from legal and logistical issues, through to the little nuances that affect how business is done.

4. Access to finance
Enhanced local knowledge of supply chains allows our banks in core markets to actively pursue international opportunities, particularly for UK SMEs.

5. New technology
Advanced digital solutions like the Santander Trade Portal are enabling businesses to find direct buyers of their products and services in new and growing markets. Meanwhile our Trade Club helps our customers trade with each other globally through an online channel.

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