Rachel’s Blog: Stagnant export figures and taking to the stage at Confidence Live

Figures released today by the British Chambers of Commerce show that most SME exporters are struggling to boost their sales overseas.

The Trade Confidence Outlook for Q1 2024 shows that more than half of all SME exporters, 53%, saw no change in overseas sales, and 23% reported a decrease.  

Unfortunately, the forecast looks fragile for 2024 due to ongoing geo-political uncertainty and growing concerns about the resilience of supply chains.

It’s not all bad news, though.

Around a quarter of exporting SME firms (24%) actually reported an increase in sales in Q1.

On a related note, I was delighted to read that Staffordshire Chamber members Bakers Fencing have been awarded a King’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category.

The award recognises their exceptional success in international trade, which saw sales grow by 82% during the three-year application period. You can find out more about their story and their huge successes in exports, here.

Bakers Fencing work closely with our International Trade team here at the Chamber who support with export documentation and declarations. If you are interested in learning more about how our International Trade team can support your business, please click here.

The domestic demand for SME exporters remains consistently more buoyant, with 35% reporting an increase in domestic sales Q1 2024, against just 24% for overseas sales.

The EU is still our biggest trading partner, but firms continue to express huge frustration with the complexity and costs involved in trade.

We must look to deconstruct trade barriers with the EU, as the UK’s regulatory divergence increases. 

The Government needs to work collaboratively with businesses to establish a framework that makes use of all the advantages the UK has, and to utilise incentives for our global exporters.

Confidence Live

Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of confidence and self-improvement returned to the King’s Hall last week.

I took to the stage to deliver an honest talk on my experiences with confidence and public speaking – something that I’ve always found difficult, but something that I am getting more comfortable with.

It was funny to hear people cheering and whopping as I spoke, so what I said clearly resonated with others and I’ve had some lovely comments since.  I think it’s important to show we’re not infallible!

I was followed on stage by a range of brilliant presentations, including presenter and comedian, Katherine Ryan.

The event attracted guests from up and down the country, many of whom would have stayed overnight and eaten locally. It was a welcome boost for our local economy and hospitality sector, and something that we are keen to build on here at the Chamber.

It was a fantastic event and it was great to be in the room with so many businesses and entrepreneurs who were all eager to connect with other industry professionals and gain valuable insights into all things confidence.

We’ve got some brilliant events coming up at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. You can find a full list of them in our events calendar, here.

The Installation of Levison Wood

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the official installation of Staffordshire University’s new Chancellor, Levison Wood last week – and it was even more fitting for it to take place on Staffordshire Day.

Raised in Forsbrook, Levison is a true champion of the Moorlands with a remarkable story, penning eleven best-selling books, travelling and working in over 100 countries and producing a range of critically acclaimed documentaries.

It’s great to have such a high-profile person to inspire local students and show what can be achieved through hard work and determination.

There were some fantastic events taking place across the county to mark Staffordshire Day and I’m already looking forward to next year’s celebrations!

We’ve got so much to be proud of here in Staffordshire – and so much to be excited about in our future.