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- 68 per cent of SMEs saw exports grow last year
- Manufacturers most prolific exporters among UK SMEs
- Business plan can help increase international sales by 20 per cent

London 10th June, 2014 - The importance of overseas sales was highlighted this week with a survey showing that exporting is now the biggest business growth area for nearly one fifth of UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The independent study, commissioned by business and finance software provider Exact, revealed an average 54 per cent of SMEs now sell products or services abroad, with those in the manufacturing sector very much leading that charge – 68 per cent of them export.

In light of the latest Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Small Business Index showing that almost two thirds of small firms expect to grow over the next 12 months, it is interesting that exporting is now the biggest growth area for 19 per cent of the UK’s 4.8 million SMEs.

The survey of 453 SME leaders also lends support to Chancellor George Osborne’s efforts to get 100,000 more British businesses exporting by 2020. The results showed that 68 per cent of those who currently export saw export sales increase in 2013 on the previous year. Among these companies, exports now make up at least 10 per cent of total sales for over half of UK SMEs (51%), and for nearly a fifth of them (18%) it now accounts for over 50 per cent of sales.

The survey also revealed that having a specific export strategy can pay dividends. Out of those SMEs that did see export figures grow last year, 74 per cent had business plans in place, of which 85 per cent said increasing exports was very much part of their strategy. This compares to those who did not have business plans in place, where only 53 per cent saw exports grow last year.

Commenting on the findings, Lucy Fox, General Manager Cloud Solutions at Exact, said: “While exporting is not an option for all, it does present huge opportunities for those who can do it.

“Just like tackling the domestic market, SMEs who are considering exporting their goods or services should plan for any international presence. They need to ensure they analyse their target marketplace and competitors thoroughly, that they understand the business and financial implications of selling overseas and set appropriate goals accordingly,” Lucy continued.

“Selling to new markets can help grow revenue streams and generate new jobs, as well as diversify risk in case of adverse economic conditions. If proof of these benefits was needed, a recent Confederation of British Industry survey shows SMEs who export are 11 per cent more likely to survive than those that don’t, and a UKTI survey shows that those who do are 34 per cent more productive.”

The survey shows Europe is still the biggest export market among UK SMEs (79% target EU), followed by USA (40%), then the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) with 24 per cent exporting there. America is particularly high among manufacturers – over half (51%) of those who took part now export to North America.

Media contacts:

For further information or if you would like to speak to someone about the research, please contact: Richard Simpson/Neil Thomas/Leah Wong on 0118 900 0860 or via email at

About Exact:

Exact is a leading global supplier of financial and business software. The company develops industry-specific on-premise and cloud solutions for manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, professional services and accountancy businesses. With its headquarters in Delft, the Netherlands, it has been listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam since June 1999 and reported a turnover of €213 million in 2013.

The research:

The online survey was carried out by independent research company Atomik Research during the first week of March 2014. A total of 453 SME businesses took part in the survey, from various sectors. Atomik Research employs researchers certified by the Market Research Society (MRS).

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Six Degrees Limited in the following categories: Business & Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, for more information visit