Midlands Engine Champions unveiled

Midlands businesses looking to export to countries across the globe have been given a boost with the announcement of dozens of ‘Export Champions’ as part of a programme to

Export Champions pictured with (front row, right) International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, and (left) Ian Harrison, Midlands Director of Exports.

Export Champions pictured with (front row, centre, right) International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, and (left) Ian Harrison, Midlands Director of Exports.

encourage and inspire businesses to export internationally.

Announced at the inaugural Midlands Engine Trade Summit, the ‘Midlands Engine Export Champions Programme’ sees 28 high profile business leaders from across the region offering their expertise and advice to inspire companies to export and support existing exporters looking to expand into new markets.

From vehicle manufacturer Westfield Sportscar in Kingswinford, to textiles design business The SundayGirl Company in Kidderminster, the 28 Export Champions – 13 of whom are based in the West Midlands region – span a wide range of sectors and services. Business leaders from these companies will provide peer to peer support and help others to fulfil their global market potential.

Speaking at the Summit in Birmingham, International Trade Minister Mark Garnier said: “We want to use the momentum of the Midlands Engine to drive this region’s exports to new heights and I am delighted to announce the launch of the Midlands Engine Export Champions Programme. Twenty-eight experienced exporters based in the Midlands will work to inspire others to either export for the first time or to export more. My Department is helping even more companies in the region explore opportunities on the global market and through this Programme local business will truly benefit from a range of expert advice and support.”

Elizabeth Gooch, CEO of Stafford-based eg solutions, a provider of enterprise workforce optimisation solutions, specialising in the back office, said: “I am delighted to be appointed as an Export Champion by the Department for International Trade. I am really proud to fly the flag for British business and I know that our products are well respected throughout the world. It’s a great opportunity to assist other businesses who are interested in expanding. Exporting not only helps businesses grow, it also contributes to the economic well-being of the region – it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to play a part in this initiative.”

Andrew Riley, chairman of Kingswinford-based Mechatherm, which produces equipment for the aluminium and non-ferrous industrial sectors, said he was honoured to be appointed an Export Champion.

“We’ve had a lot of support from UK Export Finance over the years as we’ve sought to find new export markets and being appointed an Export Champion enables me to give something back. I’m looking forward to working with the Midlands Engine to advise and support new exporters,” he added.

The announcement of Mr Riley’s appointment as Export Champion comes just days after the company won a £25 million export contract to manufacture six furnaces and a water-cooling plant in Bahrain.

Over 27,000 businesses across the Midlands Engine exported nearly £40bn worth of products to over 100 countries in 2015 and the Midlands is responsible for 24% of England’s manufacturing output with particular strengths in automotive, motorsport, aerospace and rail.

The creation of the Midlands Engine Export Champions Programme swiftly follows the launch of the government’s Midlands Engine Strategy.

An ambitious strategy to help the Midlands reach its full economic potential, the Strategy has been published today as the Chancellor Philip Hammond visited the region the day after delivering his first Budget.

It includes significant investment in skills, connectivity and local growth, while it sets out how the government plans to drive the region’s huge potential and promote it to the world.

Over 500 delegates attended the Midlands Engine Trade Summit at the Vox Conference Centre where they participated in specialist workshops and heard first-hand the steps they can take to export their goods and services overseas.

In addition to engaging with SMEs and local businesses, the Export Champions will promote the Department for International Trade’s Exporting is GREAT campaign and digital tool great.gov.uk which helps UK businesses break onto overseas markets. This innovative new programme will provide practical advice and support to drive further growth in exports.

The companies who will be flying the flag for international trade in the West Midlands are: