Having a long-term outlook on exporting is a difficult strategy for many firms but for one company, Stage Electrics, their multi-million pound business return speaks volumes about their long-haul approach to going international.
A Medium Sized Business (MSB) established in 1979, Stage Electrics focused on supplying technical equipment and solutions to the entertainment, education, leisure and corporate sectors.
Five years ago, like many firms, they realised that the UK market had limited potential for growth and so they decided to begin researching an export growth strategy. Now 40% of their bespoke projects pipeline of work is in export markets. In addition, they were also listed in the at the beginning of July 2013.
Working closely with their UKTI London International Trade Adviser, Mel Langton, they focused initially on the then high-growth markets of the Gulf States, South Africa and Turkey. Working on programmes such as Passport to Export and the Overseas Market Introduction Services they built an export plan and devised a strategy for entering the export market.
Following significant success in the Middle East, Stage Electrics decided to establish a permanent local presence in Dubai’s Media City free-zone in 2012. Their invested presence in the UAE led to a multi-million pound order book on some major projects across the MENA region.
Just some of the successful wins included a three year project in Kuwait commissioned by the Public Authority of Applied Education to provide lighting, audio and video systems for a new 900 seat Theatre. It was the first of its kind for the country.
Stage Electrics also carried out an exterior architectural lighting project for the Bahrain World Trade Centre worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Their strategy for a presence in the region helped to establish further contacts and a reputation for their high-quality work, which would have been otherwise difficult to demonstrate.
The results to date are a testament to their commitment to exporting, both in time and investment, which have enabled this UK firm to reap high rewards in the MENA region.
Parveen Thornhill, Director for UKTI London, said:
“London is a business power house, with many of the country’s medium sized companies based in the Capital.
“It is therefore hard to ignore the importance of companies such as Stage Electrics in the economic well-being of both the capital and of the wider economy.”
Darren Beckley, Head of International Projects at Stage Electrics said:
“As the overseas market has become more developed, the demand for lighting equipment to be used in theatres, stadiums and broadcasting has increased. We didn’t realise how much skill we brought to the market, where in the UK we would take these technical skills for granted”.
“The stream of demand, particularly from the Gulf region, has transformed our business. Now we employ both British and international staff in the Middle East. Being responsive to the demand, we keep £1.2m of sales stock ready for international use”.
“We knew with the saturated domestic market we needed to look elsewhere to continue our strategy for growth, our size, structure and flexibility have all contributed to a successful expansion overseas. Since 2008, we have established our international grounding far further than what we had hoped for. It has been a rewarding and profitable route.”
“UKTI helped kick start us into exporting, and Mel’s experience in advising how we navigate through the complex web of trading was invaluable. They helped turn a UK centric business to be a more globally focused operation.”
“My advice to small and medium sized businesses is as follows:
Research your market thoroughly – it is key to market success. There will be lots of opportunities that may come your way but you need to research the market to know if it is right for your business
UK skills are really valuable in international markets. It is important to remember that when you are trading internationally
UKTI is a great resource to kick start your business internationally, we got great value from our assigned International Trade Adviser”
If you are based in London and looking to develop your business overseas contact UKTI London for assistance:
London International Trade Team
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7234 3050