The Marketing Birmingham Regional Observatory and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership have conducted research that shows that Small and Medium Enterprises in the area are really reaping the rewards when they target the overseas market. They experienced, by far, the highest growth in turnover and employment.
Although the research revealed that the strongest SME’s were exporting to create growth, it also showed that only a quarter of SME’s were working in the overseas market and half of them only operate in the local West Midlands area. The remaining quarter operated over the whole of the UK. The SME’s targeting overseas markets worked mainly in the advanced manufacturing or engineering sectors.
Seventeen hundred businesses were surveyed in the West Midlands and the Black Country to see which ones were generating the most growth in turnover and employment. Those SME’s that focused on international or UK markets were more likely to be growing than those that only conducted business locally.
Nearly half of the SME’s that conducted business only in the local area had a reduction in turnover and employees in the last three years. SME’s operating in the overseas markets experienced a reduction of just a fifth and those operating in the UK markets, a third. Exports from businesses in the West Midlands totaled just over £20 billion last year compared to £17.5 billion in 2010.
Over half of advanced manufacturing SME’s and nearly 40 percent of engineering SME’s exported while only a meagre 6 percent of construction firms focused on international markets. SME’s with the highest growth in turnover and employment were 30 percent manufacturing and 26 percent engineering. Almost half of the SME’s in construction, over forty percent, had a downturn in turnover and employment in the last three years.