IOE Director General joins Sainsbury's chief in BBC Five Live exporting debate

Fri 17 Jan 2014
Posted by: IOE News
IOE News

Our Director General Lesley Bachelor has urged British businesses to step up their act in order to improve their chances of successfully breaking into overseas markets.

Lesley made her call to action on Radio 5 Live’s On the Money programme where she appeared alongside fellow panellists Justin King, Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Peter Ibbetson, Chairman of Small Businesses, RBS Group, Praveen Vijh, co-founder of Eat Natural and David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy at Aston University Business School.

Lesley said: “Culturally speaking, I think the Brits need to sharpen up their act as far as how they present themselves; I think they have to remember to hone their product and their behaviour to fit into a new market.

“It’s important to think about who we are selling to: we always talk about this by saying ‘walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins’ – we’re not awfully good at doing that.”

Lesley also reflected that many companies are reluctant to venture into new markets or unknown areas – particularly when things are going well in the UK.

Presented by Declan Curry, the illustrious panel discussed how increased investment in building quality goods was needed to elevate the export of British products overseas.

But it was the achievements of Jaguar in China, the USA, and Germany which the panel attributed to the prestigious car manufacturer’s long-term strategy and management team.

Lesley emphasised the importance of the Made in Britain brand – stressing the need for it to be backed up by good business sense and decent investment.

She explained: “Jaguar is an excellent example of how good practice really should be executed – to go international and to be successful internationally you do need to invest money.”

Although Jaguar is owned by the Indian Tata Group, Lesley discounted concerns that products had to be made entirely in Britain to benefit from the Made in Britain label.

“It’s very much about the quality of the product. It’s important that people know that they are doing business with people that care and understand what they need.

“I think you have to realise that they are obviously supporting their distributors in those markets well and that they have got the marketing right,” she added.

Peter Ibbetson said the banks welcomed plans by companies wanting to invest and grow abroad. He emphasised that they were not just there to provide the funds but also to support and advise.

Lesley agreed and explained how the IOE runs a course in international trade to help the banks provide the expertise their clients need when exporting overseas.

To hear the full broadcast in full (available until Saturday, January 18), listen here. 

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