Big interview – Marcus Dolman and Geoffrey de Mowbray

de Mowbray

Co-Chairmen of the British Exporters Association (BExA), Marcus Dolman of Rolls-Royce and Geoffrey de Mowbray of Dints International, talk to ITM about UK exporters biggest challenges  

With the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic and Brexit, why is it now more than ever so important for exporters to have support?  

de Mowbray: It’s true that both Brexit and Covid have brought about a number of shocks and uncertainties, and we’re all aware of the tremendous difficulties companies have faced in their physical and financial supply chains.  

But now that the dust is settling, it’s worth remembering that these situations also present UK exporters with great opportunities. Companies have been forced to look beyond the horizon – outside of our borders – and become internationally relevant again; something I think we might have lost for a while.  

This challenging environment has also helped alert government to the type – and critical nature – of support that exporters need to ramp up their resilience and deliver a boost to the economy. It has outlined areas where there may have previously been a gap in government support. In that sense, these sorts of crises are opportunities to make things better for exporters.  

We’ve also seen a heightened healthy competitive spirit amongst UK Export Finance (UKEF) and other export credit agencies around the world. They’ve all been forced to up their game as they seek to deliver the best kind of support for their exporters. 

The fact is, UK exporters need a simple, timely way to finance their sales to overseas customers, otherwise they are at a distinct disadvantage and will lose out to companies from competing nations.  

What advice would you offer exporters in this time of ongoing uncertainty?  

Dolman: Exporters need to really know and understand the markets they’re doing business in and trying to break into – that is essential. Local Department for International Trade offices around the world can help to facilitate that.  

They also need to ensure they’re connected to the right partners, the most critical of which are probably their financial partners. They need a financier who understands local markets, understands their business, and isn’t afraid of exporting.    

de Mowbray: It’s also important, when trying to find the right partners, to be open to who you work with. You need to put yourself out there and be fearless.  

Within the exporting community there needs to be a better sense of the fact that we’re all in this together. It’s no use trying to keep our cards close to our chest and focusing only on our own success. It’s also about giving back, fostering a spirit of peer-to-peer support, and helping others land deals. 

What role does BExA play in all of this? 

Dolman: BExA is an independent trade association and the leading voice of exporters to government. Our aim is to support our members and to lobby government to provide the services that exporters require to be successful overseas, such as assistance in entering new export markets, or financial support. Historically, our greatest focus has always been on UKEF, although that remit has widened in recent years. 

We’re a volunteer-run not-for-profit, so it has always been up to our members to take on some of the work that we do – and we’re fortunate in that there is a lot of willingness and energy to step up and promote UK exports. 

de Mowbray: BExA has created a much-needed peer network for exporters and their service providers. The biggest challenge we have as exporters in the UK is one of psychology: people are nervous of exporting, or don’t believe they’ve got the tools to do it. Being part of a network of peers can help exporters overcome this thinking and export more effectively.  

Why should exporting companies join BExA? 

de Mowbray: Coming back to what we were saying earlier about finding the right partners, BExA can help companies do that. As an SME exporter, it was only through BExA that I got to know some of the country’s key banks and service providers. Some of our exporter members have decades of experience in markets all over the world, so it’s a great learning environment.  

Dolman: We offer a number of member benefits, including our regular networking events, meetings and seminars, as well as our access to government and our ability to drive change for exporters.    

Amongst other resources, we also have an international trade helpline operated by specialists in Brexit and EU trade, payments and contracts, export and import documentation, and export control and customs regulations.  

What challenges do you foresee for British exporters in 2022, and what should they be focused on? 

de Mowbray: There are concerns about an increase in business insolvencies in the UK. Many companies have been propped up by fiscal support schemes that are gradually being withdrawn. The environment has changed. That’s why it’s vital that businesses continue to export, and that they have the necessary sustainable financial support from government – and the private sector – in order to do so.  

Dolman: If your business is viable and has survived Covid, then you should be able to get out there and explore new markets. As we emerge from the pandemic, 2022 is a year of opportunity and business development. There is a lot of pent-up demand that needs to be met, and UK exporters have a role to play in fulfilling those requirements.  

de Mowbray: There are likely to be continued delays in the supply chain for at least the next six months. But there are opportunities within that chaos. When foreign buyers’ existing supply chains are disrupted, they start looking for alternate solutions, and UK exporters need to act swiftly to be on the receiving end of that new business. I’m an eternal optimist so, for me, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity. Everything’s up in the air at the moment – don’t wait for it to settle, go out there and grab it now.  


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Media contact

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Trade Magazine

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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