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East Yorkshire businesses that think they can’t export – should think again.

That was the takeaway message from this week’s ‘International Trade Secrets for Businesses’ masterclass, organised by Hull-based James Legal solicitors.

The event, which took place at the Holiday Inn, Hull Marina, featured Sharon Stathers and Stephan Stahl, international trade advisers for Yorkshire & the Humber with the Department of International Trade (DIT), sharing this and other insights as keynote speakers.

And the 50-plus business delegates who attended said what they heard really made them think afresh about the opportunities that might exist overseas, even for smaller ‘craft’ businesses from the region.

James Legal organised the masterclass as part of its James Legal – The Business 2017 campaign, designed to act as a catalyst for helping the region’s companies to seize the opportunity this special City of Culture year represents for Hull and its environs.

The campaign also includes a Business Booster competition, with a prize fund worth over £39,000 to be shared between two stand out businesses who need support in reaching their next stage of growth.

James Legal has teamed up with a range of partners to run the campaign and competition, including the Yorkshire & Humber Department of International Trade, the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, Sirius, the Hull & Humber Chamber of Trade – and local businesses including Computanet, Elliott’s Hygiene Ltd, Peacock Finance, The Business Culture Hull, Sales Lead Genie and By Tracy Fletcher Ltd PR.

Stephan said: “The main ingredient of export success is commitment. Selling goods and services abroad isn’t necessarily the easy option, but the rewards can be great for those organisations with staying power.

“British made goods are very desirable overseas and are associated with quality. Foreign businesses like to deal with UK companies, as we have a reputation for being fair

“Not only that, but the benefits of exporting include sourcing new and innovative ideas, growth, improving your business’s sustainability in good times and bad, and increased profitability.

“For example, live opportunities this week include a craft beer importer for Berlin, and a supplier of valves and industrial equipment for Saudi Arabia.”

The pair also explained that the top 10 target countries for businesses in Yorkshire & the Humber include the USA and Australia. The top five export sectors are education and training, food and drink, advanced engineering, healthcare and medical, and construction.

There is also free and funded support available, via the DIT, for businesses wishing to explore the possibility of exporting abroad. Sharon, Stephan and their team can connect companies to appropriate opportunities and export partners.

They shared a number of interesting case studies illustrating that it’s not just long established manufacturing companies that can export. Any business can do so, whether it offers products or services, and is a large, small or micro business. Selling online opens up opportunities for smaller craft businesses too.

Under the Government’s ‘Exporting for Growth’ initiative, grants of at least £2,000 are available for eligible exporters in our region – SMEs prepared to work with the DIT to enter into or develop their exporting and create jobs.

Sharon added: “There are thousands of people looking for expertise, goods and services of UK businesses, and those in the Yorkshire & Humber have a great deal to offer.

“Exporting is not difficult, it is just different. It is also personally and professionally rewarding and we would urge any businesses that would like to have a go, to come and see us to discuss their options.”

James Legal Managing Director Nick Miller said: “Our first masterclass was a great event and we’re incredibly grateful to Sharon and Stephan, and all our campaign partners, for making it a success.

“It was fantastic to see people go away with some genuine food for thought that could help them take their businesses forward to the next level, which is what this campaign is all about.”

Janette Elliott is Co-Director of Elliott Hygiene Ltd, one of the newest campaign partners, attended the masterclass. She said: “It was great to have the opportunity to hear Sharon and Stephan’s extremely inspirational presentation, and to have chance to rub shoulders with so many like-minded businesses, working together to make a difference.”

Any businesses wanting to find out more about exporting abroad can contact the regional DIT team for Hull, East Riding, North & North East Lincolnshire via the following numbers: 

 For more details of our James Legal – The Business 2017 campaign, our masterclasses and the Business Booster competition, visit

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