Government unveils new measures to boost exports for retail and consumer brands affected by Covid-19

Thu 10 Sept 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


The government this week announced a series of new measures to support brands in the consumer and retail industry to export overseas post-Covid.

Retailers have been among the worst hit from the pandemic, with high street shopping declining due to social distancing measures introduced during the spring.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) hopes to support the sector by improving companies’ export skills and ecommerce capabilities.

It has called retail a “key pillar of the UK economy” which contributes £104bn to the UK economy in 2019.

New Academy

The announcement on Tuesday (8 September) included the unveiling of a new Consumer and Retail Export Academy to provide firms with the “knowledge, skills and networks needed to increase their exports”.

Other measures include:

  • Firms to be given access to new DIT partnerships with B2B
  • DIT will offer support to firms to make the most of opportunities arising from new trade deals
  • Brands will be able to showcase their offerings at high profile events – including Expo 2020 Dubai, the Tokyo Olympics and the Commonwealth games

Helping hand

Exports minister Graham Stuart said the support was needed because of the challenges brought to the industry – which has traditionally relied on face-to-face interactions – by coronavirus.

“This package of support will give businesses the helping hand they need to adapt their methods and thrive in the future,” he said.

The British Retail Consortium welcomed the news, tweeting: “The retail industry continues to face a mountain of challenges as a result of coronavirus. We are pleased to see DIT has taken steps to support businesses recover from this crisis and help retail bounce back!”

Switching off TAP

One area of export support the government may be saving on is the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP).

The FT reports that a group of over 40 trade associations have complained to government that the money going into the programme has been withdrawn and not reallocated.

TAP provides up to £2,500 in grant funding towards the costs of firms exhibiting at overseas trade shows, however, due to Covid-19, many shows have been cancelled or moved online.

The Export Partners UK group of associations wrote to the government urging ministers to disburse the funds to help firms learn how to use the online platforms on which many trade shows are now being hosted.