Scale-ups see EU as declining market when it comes to export

Scale-up bosses want the international trade department to offer tailored support to help them sell more overseas

Scale-ups, businesses defined as growing turnover by up to 20 per cent year on year, see the EU as a declining future export market.

Although the EU will remain UK scale-ups’ biggest single export market in the future, accounting for 43 per cent of export, this would be down from its current 50 per cent share.

India (177 per cent growth), Latin America (140 per cent growth) and China (118 per cent growth) are seen as more dynamic markets.

Indeed, post Brexit, scale-ups see the EU as the only declining market for goods or services.

Markets for scaleups already exporting or looking to export in the future

Region NowFuture% +/-
Indian subcontinent9%25%177%
Latin America10%24%144%
Other parts of Asia15%28%86%
Australasia 18%32%77%
Middle East17%28%64%
Other parts of Europe outside EU26%33%27%
North America 35%40%14%
Source: ScaleUp Institute

Fifty-seven per cent of scale-ups export overseas, with 46 per cent of exporters now trading with countries outside the EU, up from 32 per cent in 2019.

Seven out of 10 scale-ups would like to sell overseas, with 62 per cent aspiring to increase sales to countries outside the EU.

As a result, Britain’s fastest-growing firms want the international trade department to offer tailored support to help them expand overseas as part of its new export strategy.

>See also: Government will give 80% guarantees on financial support for UK exporters

The call comes before the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) export promotion week, which begins on November 15, and an update to the UK’s export strategy.

Trade bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses have lobbied Whitehall for the UK to match the support offered by countries, such as Canada and Australia. It follows the ending of a grant system to help small companies attend overseas trade fairs.

“Scale-ups are at the heart of the UK’s trade ambitions,” the Scaleup annual review said. “However, more support is needed. They want better introductions to buyers in overseas markets, more information of market opportunities, a single point of contact for scale-ups at DIT in the UK and overseas, and dedicated trade missions.

There are 33,445 scale-ups in the UK, accounting for £1.1tr in turnover, half of the £2.2tn turnover of all SMEs.

The average turnover of a scale-up is £32.6m, compared to £29.5m in 2018.

Further reading

6 steps you need to take if you want to export successfully