Earlier this month, the British Exporters Association (BExA) crowned the winner and runner-up of the annual GTR BExA Young Exporter of the Year Award at its annual lunch at Mansion House.
The top spot went to Jonathan Moyce, the owner of Loving Pets, which designs and exports pet products to 11 countries and sells to multinational vendors, including Walmart, Costco Europe and Pets at Home. Second place was awarded to Alessia Borrini, bid manager for Francophone Africa at NMS Infrastructure, a managing EPC developer specialising in fully-funded infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, which credits Borrini with making a significant contribution to the winning of major contracts in the region.
Finalists also included George Hunter, director of sales at Coltraco Ultrasonics, a designer and manufacturer of safety systems across markets such as marine and power generation, and Tom Wrigley, vice-president of business development at Winch Energy, a global off-grid energy developer.
GTR spoke with Moyce and Borrini to get their views on support from the UK government, as well as advice for their peers in the industry.
GTR: What one thing could the UK government do to enable your company to grow its exports?
Moyce: The current climate points to one very important deadline: Brexit. Our current position with the European Union makes exporting relatively simple for the pet industry. I want the UK government to keep SMEs like Loving Pets in mind to try and maintain the current deal we have with the EU and have the right support packages in place to help us open doors to new markets.
With rapid revenue growth often comes rapid cost. I would like to see the UK government support startups and expanding businesses with a three to five-year relief on certain taxes such as corporation tax. As soon as we make a profit we get taxed. I would use the tax relief to employ new skilled staff, increase stock and expand premises. The current corporation tax scheme for startups and SMEs is only a restriction to expansion, which in turn slows the development of my business.
Borrini: Sometimes timings and bureaucracy can pose a limit to the support of the UK government to companies like NMS. We live in a fast-paced society where timings often impact on results and choices. I believe that if the UK government could find a way to expedite the support process, a lot of companies like NMS would benefit.
GTR: What would be your advice to other young UK exporters looking to crack tough export markets, or export for the first time?
Borrini: There are so many things that young UK exporters need to know before entering a new market: knowledge of the country, its legal framework and operational procedures to list but a few. Cultural understanding is a must, and in my case the knowledge of French was essential, not only to be able to talk to people but also to make them feel respected. I would say, though, that the two things that people must have when trying to enter a tough export market is patience and resilience.
Moyce: Young exporters do not have experience on their side. Get on the road, get in front of the customer and ask questions. Do your research, know your industry, know your product, know who you are selling to, but don’t pretend to know everything.
I aim to get to two to three countries a month with customers I have qualified. You need to understand their needs, current trading issues and requirements in order to sell a solution to their problems. When exporting for the first time, it’s vital you link up with a freight company that can offer advice on the process and requirements. I also work closely with bodies such as Open to Export and the department for international trade. Help is only a phone call away and beats scrolling through thousands of Google pages. Hard work, persistency and consistency is the key to success.
Pictured: Jonathon Moyce, Marcus Dolman (BExA co-chair), Geoff de Mowbray (BExA co-chair) and Alessia Borrini