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Importance of presence in an overseas market

The overriding message from the speakers at May's month’s ITC meeting was “presence” and the importance of doing overseas business in person.

More than 60 businesses packed the Dunkenhalgh at the latest meeting of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce International Trade Club which is sponsored by Cassons, part of the Baldwins Group.

Freddie Blackman from AEI Saudi helps British businesses to take their products and services to Saudi Arabia. He emphasised the value of building relationships with potential clients which can only be done in face to face visits. But he urged everyone to be relaxed and not clock watch as the Saudis will never attend appointments on time. He also recommended the use of Whatsapp as they don’t respond to emails or phone calls.

International Trade ClubThe audience were surprised to hear that Saudi Arabia, spans a geographical area roughly the same size as Western Europe. Strategically located in the heart of the Middle East, Saudi has the largest economy in the region. There is renewed momentum for business and trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia, and a big appetite for growth and development diversifying away from oil.

Lucy Murphy who is the International Manager for the Printed Cup Company continued the theme of the importance of meeting people and developing relationships when you want to build an international market. She calculated that she has taken 26 return flights in the last 12 months.

While the Paper Cup Company have a very simple order process and no minimum order quantities, face to face visits are essential for building relationships with agents & distributors and the larger customers around the world.

Lucy explained how the Printed Cup Company now exports to 26 countries – which means that they need to understand the certification and legislation in each of those countries and ensure they comply with all of the relevant food grade standards.

Egle Mecinskaite-Olivi, from The Queen’s Awards Office, explained that the awards cycle has just started and encouraged all of the businesses present to consider applying. She explained the many benefits of winning an award and the extra prestige it gives any businesses involved in international trade.

The final speaker was Annalise Lamb who was speaking on behalf of HMRC and conducting research into how HMRC can make its new digital customs systems work for businesses. Any businesses who would like to be involved in the research are invited to contact Annalise (via the Chamber).

Mandy Lockett, International Business Director at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, and Stef Heywood, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce's International Business Manager, reminded members about the availability of grant support for businesses involved in export. This could go towards flights, accommodation and interpreters for those all important personal meetings with existing and prospective customers.

Les Nutter, Managing Director of Cassons, part of the Baldwins Group said: “It was wonderful to see so many businesses at the meeting including six new members to the International Trade Club. As ever, the room was buzzing during breakfast with the sound of everyone swopping thoughts and experiences."

Mandy Lockett commented “It was tremendous to hear the speakers give their hands on advice and support about the reality of the export market. Understanding the right way to contact a potential customer is essential!”

Run by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce International Business Team and sponsored by Cassons, which is part of the Baldwins Group, the International Trade Club aims to help importers and exporters develop their knowledge of current issues and share experiences.

The next ITC event take place on Thursday 12 July 2018. More information can be found on their website.

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