Europe’s smaller companies are bullish about growing their exports in the coming year, according to a survey commissioned by UPS of 10,717 owners and directors of SMEs in seven European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK – across the automotive, healthcare, high tech, industrial and retail sectors.
These results appear to be contrary to the findings of a recent Confederation for British Industry (CBI) survey, which found that 46 per cent of small businesses reported a drop in exports in the last quarter.
This latest research from UPS depicts optimism among UK SMEs, with 42 per cent of companies expecting export volumes to grow and 45 per cent expecting them to hold stable.
A prosperous three years
The UK has the highest proportion (61 per cent) of SME exporters reporting higher revenues over the last three years, and almost the lowest proportion (11 per cent) reporting lower revenues.
The UK’s SMEs are also the second most likely to use online channels for exporting (70 per cent of companies) – only the Netherlands has a higher proportion of SMEs exporting online (74 per cent).
In the UK, where 1,101 companies were surveyed, 17% of SMEs say that they are already exporting – only German SMEs have a higher tendency to export (18 per cent).
The Study shows also revealed that the UK is highly ‘export positive’ – SMEs in the UK are among the most positive on future prospects, they export to diverse destinations outside of Europe, and they are highly likely to trade online.
The UK is the most likely of all countries surveyed to export to the US, and UK SMEs have an above average rate of exporting to Africa, Asia including China, and the Middle East.
Exporting SMEs in the UK are also more likely than most others to ship to consumers – only Germany is more consumer-focussed.
‘Perceived barriers’ holding some SMEs back
“European SMEs are increasing their exports and expanding to new markets as they continue to grow their business,” says Cindy Miller of UPS Europe.
“What is remarkable is that it’s their customers who often push them to start exporting. Perceived and real export barriers are holding many SMEs back until customers contact them for an export order.
“European SMEs are benefiting from export opportunities, especially in times of booming e-commerce.”