craig durnell - bibby

Meet the judges: Craig Durnell, Bibby Financial Services

Ahead of the next Export Action Plan competition final, taking place at the Swiss Embassy on November 2nd, we’ve spoken to some the export experts who will be making up the judging panel.

Craig Durnell, MD at competition sponsors Bibby Financial Services, is the first judge we spoke to…

As competition sponsors, why do you think competitions like this are so important for the UK’s exporters?

At a time of uncertainty surrounding the future of the UK economy, it has never been more vital that we look to champion UK businesses that are out there already, flying the flag internationally. More needs to be done to highlight the support available to help SMEs to unlock growth opportunities from exporting their goods and services around the world. Both seasoned exporters and new entrants alike should look to exploit international business opportunities.

Planning for export is a big message of ours, especially with Brexit coming up. In what ways does BFS encourage businesses to prepare for something as big as Brexit, and in general for exporting at any time?

The EU referendum result is leaving many of those in the business community unsure and unconfident about the years ahead. This makes exporting more important than ever. There are a number of barriers to international trade that SMEs in the UK must overcome, including time-zones, cultural nuances, border regulations, legal practices and languages. However, our research reveals that currency volatility is the number one concern amongst SME owners today, especially with currency fluctuations. Export Finance helps businesses to overcome these challenges, providing certainty of payment, upfront payment against overseas invoices and access to a team of export specialists. As a global businesses with more than 35 years’ experience of supporting SMEs worldwide, we have a unique understanding of overseas markets.

What are you most looking forward to about judging the Export Action Plan competition this November?

This is an interesting time for the country, and the world is looking closely at what we do to ensure a ‘Global Britain’. I am interested in learning more about how the current economic environment is shaping the thoughts and ideas of the UK’s business community, and what opportunities they are identifying to charter their way forward in these uncertain times.

What three tips would you give to both the finalists and potential future entrants to the competition about what you look for in a winning export plan?

The best business plan has at its heart three key considerations. First off, it should highlight the unique selling points the product or service has that might give a competitive advantage, as well as consider the reasons for choosing the markets targeted; secondly, an outline of the resources needed and how it’ll be financed, including the costs of all the extra activity; and lastly, to all this, it needs creativity – what ways will you ensure your product gets noticed in such a busy international market? This is not easy and I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative ways in which UK SMEs are looking to get themselves noticed on the global stage.

For more information about the upcoming Export Action Plan final, go to the competition page here.

We are extremely grateful to Bibby Financial Services for sponsoring the competition this year.

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