West Mids businesses on track for new business after Le Mans visit

Ten West Midlands engineering and automotive supply chain businesses are on track to win tens of thousands of pounds of new business after taking part in a trade mission to Le Mans, France.

The companies visited the region two weeks ago ahead of the famous 24-hour endurance race to meet prospective customers.

West Midlands companies visit GKN Driveline’s state of the art plant in Arnage, near Le Mans.

Organised and funded by the SME International Growth Project, a business internationalisation programme co-finance by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the mission saw the business leaders spend two days in specially organised meetings.

They also met Matthew Lodge, the British Ambassador to UNESCO, regional and local authorities, and the Chamber of Commerce for the Pays de la Loire region.

Andy Smith, international relations manager for the project, said all the companies are now actively pursuing leads that were generated during the mission, with 70% hopeful of new business – two of which should be worth about £80,000.

“There are clear economic synergies between the West Midlands and Pays de la Loire,” he said.

“Both regions are strong in automotive, aerospace and transport technologies and the companies had the chance to meet some big players from the sector, such as the PSA Group and Renault as well as the local automotive innovation cluster lead.”

Steve Fox, business development manager of Premier Group – the Birmingham-based world leader in bespoke, low volume manufacturing of assemblies, prototypes and panels, and the largest company on the mission – said he came away from the trade mission optimistic.

“By the end, we had gained very strong leads with several potential new customers, and a stronger understanding of manufacturing in the region,” he said.

Rollo Rigby, of the Severn Partnership, the Telford onsite digital survey company that is relatively new to exporting, added that he had made a number of good contacts and was to follow one very promising business opportunity.

All ten firms have already signalled their desire to meet Pays de la Loire firms and representatives when they make a return visit to the Midlands in November.