GATWICK DIAMOND EXPORTERS REMAIN CONFIDENT
20 June 2017
Despite economic uncertainties at home, Gatwick Diamond companies are looking to grow through global trade.
According to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Gatwick Diamond, 44% of Gatwick Diamond-based businesses already trade overseas and three quarters of the region’s businesses expect international trade to expand over the next 12 months. “Despite economic and political uncertainty at home, local businesses are optimistic about the growth opportunities presented by export markets,” says Rosemary French, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative.
Although the EU remains the largest market for Gatwick Diamond exporters, uncertainty surrounding BREXIT is causing anxiety for some businesses. 21% of respondents were very concerned about its potential impact on their businesses; but exporters are taking a pragmatic approach, maintaining the dialogue with partner companies in the EU as well as venturing beyond the traditional EU export markets into the high growth markets of Asia, Australia/Pacific, India and China.
While optimism towards exporting is evident, companies admit that it is not a straightforward process, citing barriers that include exchange rate and currency fluctuations plus a lack of internal resources to fully exploit international opportunities. Over half (56%) of respondents have not received any export assistance. When asked what support they would welcome in relation to overseas trade, more than half of respondents (57%) said they would benefit from financial support for business development missions. Other priorities included support in identifying potential markets and customers, and opportunities to network with other businesses trading overseas.
Crawley-based Lighthouse Systems Ltd is a Gatwick Diamond company reaping the benefits of international trade. Lighthouse Systems was recently named ‘International Business of the Year’ at the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards in recognition of its ventures into new export markets and significant year-on-year growth. In the last two years, Lighthouse Systems has built on its international presence in the US and Singapore and has created a direct presence in France, Sweden and Poland. The company has also grown its partner network in South Africa, the Netherlands and Belgium and has started a new initiative in the Middle East.
The Gatwick Diamond Business Barometer survey also looks at overall business confidence and finds most companies ‘cautiously optimistic’. 63% of businesses expect to see turnover growth over the next six months and 43% of businesses expect to expand their staffing levels in response to growth opportunties.