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Exports ‘aren’t our business’ - export-led recovery a pipe dream

The vast majority of UK companies do not sell their goods or services overseas, dashing any hopes that exports might lift us out of the current economic mire.

90 per cent of businesses polled in the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of SMEs across the UK, said they did not export, a figure consistent with 2012 ONS statistics*.

The main reasons provided for not pursuing opportunities abroad were cash flow concerns and that businesses simply think they have nothing to export.

"SMEs must be more active in seeking and exploiting opportunities overseas. Even companies that are well positioned to export often do not," said Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance.

"We need to understand the barriers - perceived or otherwise, take measures to lower those barriers for UK businesses, and make exporting a possibility for them once again.

"Managing cash flow is of course important at any time but begin to export and it becomes absolutely critical. However, with appropriate planning based on practical advice, it doesn't need to be a problem," he added.

Mr Randall urged more businesses to consider asset finance to give them the cash flow boost they need to tap into high-growth markets.

He said; "We have been working with companies who are investing and focusing on high-growth markets outside of the Eurozone and through the use of asset finance products such as Sale and HP Back and Leasing, they have been able to invest in the export market and reap dividends with their order books holding steady.

"Risks can be managed to allow a business to take full advantage of the opportunities that exporting can bring."

*For the 2012 financial year, of the 2.15 million UK enterprises registered for VAT and/or PAYE, 296,000 or 13.76% were exporting to the EU or non-EU countries outside of the UK.