“It’s a criminal waste. Not so long ago, the UK was a worldwide exporter. Now we’ve become dependent upon the rest of the world,” said William Chase, owner and founder of Chase Distillery.
Chase grew up in Herefordshire where he raised potatoes. Then he developed the Tyrrell Crisps brand before moving on to produce high-end vodka and gin on his 400-acre farm in Herefordshire.
“The UK needs to regain its traditional position as a leading exporter. We’re an island. It would be in our best interest to supply the world rather than depending upon it for everyday items,” Chase said.
In 1998, the UK accounted for 5.8 percent of the world’s export market of goods and services. By 2008 that figure had declined to 4 percent, even though overall exports had increased. The UK used to supply 40 percent of the world’s trade.
“Exports account for about 30 percent of my business now. I expect exports to match my UK sales quite soon and then become 50 percent more,” Chase said.
Chase Distillery’s largest export markets are Spain, with nearly 33 percent of the company’s annual exports, and the United States, with about 20 percent. Europe (including Spain) makes up about half of the company’s export market.
However, Asia is a growing export market that soon will eclipse the U.S. Asia — including China, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates — accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s nearly £900 billion in annual exports.
“Turning the UK’s export figure around isn’t as difficult as it seems. The latest figures from the UK Trade and Investment agency show only one in five UK small- and medium-sized businesses are exporters,” Chase said.
“Increasing that to one in four would make a noticeable difference. That’s just another 10,000 businesses. It’s not as daunting as it seems.
“It just requires a simple shift in attitude to embracing exports instead of being afraid of the process,” he said.
Chase said UK Trade and Investment works with the country’s banks and has field offices in 96 countries to identify potential export markets for small businesses.
The agency can help businesses pool resources to reduce expenses such as shipping and provide export insurance to cover extended payment periods, he said.