In a challenging economic climate, an increasing number of UK companies are turning to export to strengthen revenue, with members of the British Security Industry Association’s Export Council receiving an extra boost through the Association’s organisation of UK pavilions at overseas exhibitions.
End-of-year estimates by the Office of National Statistics indicated that UK exports to non-EU countries increased by £15.7 billion between 2010 and 2011, with the weakening of the pound against other currencies enabling UK products to compete more effectively against their overseas counterparts. Indeed, exporting is often seen as the key to economic recovery, meaning that more and more UK companies, including those operating in the security sector will be looking further afield for business opportunities in the future.
Despite all of the potential benefits, however, exporting can be challenging for businesses, both in terms of the initial start-up and in expansion into new markets. Challenges that are often faced by UK companies include overcoming the language barrier, as well as understanding legal and cultural differences between countries. Support from organisations such as UKTI and the BSIA can prove to be invaluable in both cases.
One of the services currently offered by the BSIA is the organisation of UK Pavilions at overseas events. Here, UK security exporters promote their products and services alongside each other at a reduced cost, enabling them to share expertise while receiving support and guidance from the BSIA.
Tom Sharrard, whose company, IDL, has successfully exhibited at many BSIA overseas pavilions over the years, comments: “I would recommend the BSIA overseas pavilions to any security company that is entering a new overseas market or anyone new to exporting. BSIA takes care of a lot of the organisational aspects, including the shipping, and makes the whole experience far less daunting. Also, there is the support and advice from other UK companies in the Pavilion. Another major advantage is that the BSIA can often secure a better location in the exhibition than individual companies would be able to.”
Mike Parry, International Sales Manager for Security at Remsdaq Ltd, and winner of the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Exporting in 2011, adds: “Remsdaq have attended events in USA, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East under the UK banner. The main reason for us attending in this way is the partial funding that’s often available, which makes these events far more attractive in that we can at least do more of them.”
Mark Tibbenham, Managing Director of GJD Ltd, also a BSIA member, concludes: “I cannot speak highly enough of the professional organisation and the fantastic image the UK Pavilion provided for UK exhibitors. BSIA representatives are always on hand to help with absolutely anything at all. The freight movements in and out are always very well coordinated and organised.
“Certainly there is a real sense of pride when being on a themed pavilion with other UK companies. Above all else we definitely get value for money!”
The overseas pavilions organised by the BSIA are not solely open to BSIA members, but to all security companies keen on gaining a more secure foothold in export markets.