South East: Leading the way for UK goods exports

Latest HMRC data shows that as well as overseas demand for goods from the South East being at a record high, the region continues to export more goods than any other UK region.

  • Goods exports from the South East in the 2018/19 financial year grew at 4.8% to a record high of £47.7 billion.
  • The South East has now recorded four consecutive financial years of goods export growth.
  • Asia and Oceania is the South East’s fastest growing export market.
  • Milton Keynes bases skincare brand Naturally Tribal Skincare are the latest UK exporters to be tapping into overseas demand.

Despite an increasingly challenging global economic environment, the world continues to demand British goods from regions right across the country. HMRC data released on June 6 shows that goods exports from the South East in the 2018/19 financial year grew by 4.8% to a record high of £47.7 billion. The South East continues to export more than any other UK region, a crown they have held on to for the past 16 years.

As well as the value of goods exports from the South East being at a record high, more businesses based in the region are exporting goods than ever before. In the first quarter of 2019, 18,009 businesses exported abroad, a huge 1,103 more than the same period in the previous year.

A key driver to the increased demand for goods from the South East is the spiralling demand from Asia and Oceania, where exports to the region grew in the 2018/19 financial year by 19.4% to £8.9b.

Secretary of state for international trade Dr Liam Fox said: “I am delighted that goods exports from the South East have boasted particularly impressive growth rates over the past financial year, which is a consequence of the outstanding quality of produce and resilience of businesses across the region. When local businesses trade internationally, they provide profound economic benefits to the local economy, including more jobs and cheaper goods. By diversifying their markets globally, businesses of all sizes can benefit from increased competitiveness, which encourages greater innovation and prosperity.

“I encourage businesses throughout the South East to use todays statistics as evidence that despite the global headwinds getting stronger, the world demands British goods at unprecedented levels. My international economic department is keen to work with businesses to ensure their full exporting potential is unlocked.”

One South East-based exporter tapping into growing overseas demand is a Milton Keynes skincare brand that uses natural ingredients of African origin to develop its products, is set to double its turnover after launching in Nigeria with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Naturally Tribal Skincare is an award-winning, vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand that specialises in body care products for sensitive skin. The brand recently secured its first contract with one of the largest beauty distributors in Nigeria, Perfect Trust Cosmetics.

The DIT team in Nigeria helped the business secure the British deputy high commissioner’s residence as a venue and supported with preparing agendas and inviting guests. 

With the support of the DIT team in Nigeria and other local strategic partners such as Compass Global, the skincare brand has since received enquiries from four high-end spas that attended, and this, coupled with the existing contract, is predicted to double annual turnover.

Shalom Lloyd, founder of Naturally Tribal Skincare, said: “Naturally Tribal Skincare was born in my kitchen. I wanted to soothe my son’s eczema without using steroid creams or chemicals. Inspired by my African roots, I imported raw shea butter from Nigeria and used this to create the magic formula. Before speaking with advisers at DIT I had no idea that there would be this level of demand for British-branded skincare products in Nigeria – consumers there saw the British branding as a mark of quality.

“It can be difficult for start-up businesses like ours to begin exporting because of a lack of funds and connections. DIT has the tools to help with this, and as a result, there is now such a buzz around our products in Nigeria. There is so much support out there for businesses like mine that are thinking about selling overseas, from locally held networking events to funding for attending trade shows abroad. If we can do it, so can you.”

Shalom Lloyd, Naturally Tribal Skincare, and Jumoke Aderibigbe, Department for International Trade