Businesses profit from trading internationally

Three quarters of UK companies doing some form of business internationally say going global has made their business more profitable, research finds.

Of the 60 per cent of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have done some form of business overseas, such as selling their product or service internationally, buying stock or materials overseas or hiring overseas freelancers, 84 per cent would recommend ‘going international’ to fellow businesses.

Seeking out a new customer base (72 per cent) and gaining access to materials and stock not available in the UK (30 per cent) are cited by UK SMEs as key reasons to internationalise their business, according to a study by Transferwise.

Europe is a key trading partner for UK SMEs, with 71 per cent of the UK’s international SMEs having done business in Western Europe, and a third (33 per cent) in Eastern Europe.

When looking at UK SMEs as a whole, 27 per cent rely on business with Western Europe. More than half (55 per cent) of those who do business internationally have worked with North America and 42 per cent with Asia.

Nilan Peiris, VP of growth at TransferWise says, ‘Going global can be a solution to many of the problems UK SMEs face, from finding a new customer base to sourcing cheaper materials or finding key business skills less available in the UK.

‘It can be daunting for a small business to take the leap and go global, but our research proves that SMEs that do so are much more likely to be profitable and would encourage fellow UK SMEs to do the same.’

Peter Hill, co-founder of Hackney Brewery, a craft-beer brewery based in East London which sources materials from Europe, is an example of a company owner finding success internationally when he looked to Germany to source specialist kegs after noticing a boom in kegged ales.

‘We found a company in Germany which created the kegs we needed. They’re rubberised on the outside so they’re quiet and they don’t dent easily, making them extremely durable, perfect for the beer we brew.

‘Craft ale sales have continued to rise and our new kegs have helped us get our beer out to the thirsty public!

Further reading on international trade

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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