Fashion SMEs eager to capitalise on global demand of ‘Brand GB’

Keen to capitalise on this trend, however, respondents identified difficulties such as customs navigation and incentives to raise their business profiles overseas as issues to be addressed.
The research from DHL Express says that demand from overseas markets amplifying, two-thirds of UK Fashion SMEs expect to see overseas sales figures double in the next two years. 
However, while they are optimistic about future growth, a cautious two-thirds said plans to expand the business to meet this demand are unlikely in the next two years and more needs to be done to help UK SMEs grow.
Respondents highlighted trade missions to raise the profile of British designers overseas, as well as financial incentives such as tax breaks for exporters, as the best ways to capitalise on the current appetite from international markets for British fashion and facilitate UK export growth. 
Phil Couchman, CEO DHL Express UK and Ireland said: “There is a growing global demand to ‘buy British’ – while awareness of British fashion is arguably being driven by public figures, the quality of British design and manufacturing shouldn’t be underestimated as an impetus in itself.  With this unbeatable combination, the British fashion industry is in a strong position to not only grow its own revenues, but if demand continues, British fashion businesses could be incremental to domestic economic growth overall.
The majority of those surveyed named the USA of all the countries they trade with as the market they do most business with, although a quarter also stated this as the most challenging market to trade with.
When asked what the biggest challenge is for SMEs trading internationally, a quarter identified high or difficult customs charges as a key issue.
Colin McDowell MBE, unofficial fashion ambassador for DHL and Creative Director of Fashion Fringe said: “This research demonstrates a clear demand for British fashion overseas  – but in order to facilitate this demand and, in turn, business growth, British fashion businesses need support to navigate the choppy waters of international trade. There are a number of things to consider, from overseas customs and negotiating payment terms to understanding foreign markets – but with expert advice, the rewards are there for those who are willing to take the leap and, above all, be patient.
“Success normally takes time. After all, John Galliano was more or less on the breadline for his first ten years before breaking through to become one of the fashion world’s greatest creators. I am just glad that initiatives like Fashion Fringe can now give material support to young designers, thanks to the invaluable help we are given by our collaborators”
In their experience of trading internationally, respondents identified; quality classic/timeless design and value for money as the top three qualities international buyers value in British products, with the products in greatest demand being shoes, knitwear and lingerie.
DHL Express has a wealth of experience when it comes to international trade and can provide valuable advice to businesses planning on expanding globally; including information around customs rules and regulations that govern overseas markets.
DHL Express has teamed up with the British Chambers of Commerce, Business Link, Institute of Export, and UK Trade and Investment to provide SMEs with a great platform to launch their international expansion.