A credit to exporters

A credit to exporters

UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, supported the largest number of companies in 25 years in 2015-16. Gordon Welsh, head of UKEF’s Business Group, tells BQ how the department is helping make exports happen.

Earlier this month, UK Export Finance published its results for 2015-16. We supported the largest number of exporters in 25 years, with a 23% increase on the previous year. 77% of the exporters that received finance and insurance from UKEF were small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and an estimated 7,000 companies in exporter supply chains benefited indirectly from UKEF’s support to exporters.

UKEF’s mission is to ensure that no viable UK export should fail for lack of finance or insurance from the private sector. In support of this, we help companies to win, fulfil and get paid for export contracts. Our recent focus on innovative support for SME exporters is part of the Exporting is GREAT campaign, the whole-of-government drive to empower 100,000 new companies to sell overseas by 2020. The UK is a global leader in many of the sectors for which the world has most demand, so there really is a world of opportunity out there. And where there is a demand for UK expertise, that UK company may need ours.

If you look at some of the companies we supported in 2015-16, it paints a vivid picture of the rich diversity of the UK’s exporting community.

Take Wyedean Weaving, which has been supplying buyers around the world with uniforms and woven accessories for the last 160 years. When the Yorkshire-based company won contracts to supply textile badges for United Nations peacekeepers’ uniforms, it was asked to provide a performance guarantee from its bank, which would have reduced the funding available for other business activities. With the benefit of a guarantee under our Bond Support Scheme, Natwest was able to issue the performance bond without restricting the funding available to the business.

And ES Global Solutions, an event staging company based in London. Last year, ES Global won a £1.2m contract to provide equipment for the triathlon on the celebrated Copacabana Beach as part of the Olympics in Rio, Brazil. UKEF was able to provide reassurance in the form of export insurance, helping the company protect itself from any risk of non-payment.

Then there’s Pinnacle Re-Tec, a Co. Durham-based engineering and manufacturing firm specialising in pump parts and reverse engineering for whom exports make up 65% of sales. When Pinnacle identified some large opportunities with two Egyptian buyers in the electricity sector, it was able to secure additional funding from HSBC, supported by UKEF, enabling it to win and fulfil the contracts.

We supported sales to Germany for Dudley-based Glasscoat International, which makes machines used to coat glass bottles, many of which have supplied bottles to some of the world’s biggest cosmetics and beverage brands, including Revlon, Absolut Vodka, Bombay Sapphire and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Devon’s SC Group benefited from a guarantee under our bond support scheme when its Supacat military vehicle business won a significant contract with the Australian government.

And we helped boat builder Blyth Workcats, based in Canvey Island in Essex, fulfil a contract with a German university to provide a catamaran for a research project. The list goes on.