Building a market overseas

Hull based performance engineering company, ZCars expands its global horizons after lacklustre UK market. Working with UKTI Yorkshire, ZCars now has a strategy for global growth and 70% of their turnover comes from international orders.

ZCars is a performance engineering company that sells and builds kit cars both in the UK and abroad. The company, set up by ex-police officer Chris Allanson also builds a wide range of cars for films, TV, promotions, prototypes and collectors. After spending his spare time building cars and racing them for his own enjoyment when he left the force he decided to go into business. Whilst it would have been easy in some ways for Chris to sit back and just enjoy being able to use his hobby for a living, Chris has been pro-active and developed a real niche for himself and his company in the international market.

Survive & Thrive

The export side of the business really began in 2004. Up until this point Chris explained they had sold the odd kit abroad, but nothing that was planned or as a result of any pro-active strategy. With a declining economy in the UK this meant a significant reduction in disposable income and therefore potential customers and so Chris signed up to the Passport to Export programme with UK Trade & Investment.

“We needed to try exporting because Britain was all doom and gloom. There are markets overseas for all sorts of things, you can sell anything!”

Chris explained he was a bit sceptical of the sessions involved with Passport to Export at first, involving a lot of talk, he was anxious to find out how they could help him. At the first session he described how one observation made a real impact on him though. On the day, UKTI went through each and every company’s website to analyse the positive and negative features in terms of export potential. Chris’s was last, and the video clip on his homepage was found to be one of the best features. This exercise gave Chris an idea of how he could market his product internationally.

The idea was for a promotional film for ZCars, to advertise the company across the world, showing the entire process of how to build a kit car. Chris knew the film would work to transcend many of the boundaries with international markets through its visual and general audio impact. As an advertising tool, Chris explained it really did the job and he managed to sell the films too. In fact, they were so lucrative both as a stand-alone product and to generate new business in the company, that he began to give them away for free in the end as they paid for themselves!

Company: ZCars

Industry: Automotive


Chris attributes much of this success down to the work he did with his International Trade Advisor from UKTI who, Chris explained, had an amazing ability to look at his unusual company with an even more unusual proposition for marketing overseas and really understand what he was trying to do. Testament to the flexibility and willingness to really listen to a company’s plans, UKTI supported Chris with the funding he needed to be able to make the film.

“Our International Trade Advisor was really switched on, very helpful and very professional. He knew how to help us and how we wanted to be helped. He became a great friend really.”

“It hasn’t been challenging really, whenever we had a problem we always knew we could ask someone for help”.


If you are based in the Yorkshire and Humber region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:

UKTI Yorkshire

Tel: 0300 365 1000

Email [email protected]

If you are based in one of the other UK Regions find your nearest International Trade Advisor via our postcode search facility in Contacts in your region.

Sectors: Automotive
Countries: Yorkshire and Humberside
Topics: Getting Started
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