Press release

Prince of Wales champions export drive of traditional manufacturers

The Prince of Wales visits Bedfordshire firms that use the heritage of their products to increase overseas sales.


The Prince of Wales will today (3 December 2013) visit Bedfordshire to put the spotlight on traditional UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that use the heritage of their products to increase overseas sales.

On his visit to Jordans Mill in Biggleswade the Prince will meet 6 locally based companies including a 300 year old hat maker and a brewer with over 100 years’ experience. The firms export to countries both within Europe and further afield including USA, UAE, and Japan.

The east of England has seen an 8.7% growth of exports to countries outside the European Union at £12.11 billion – accounting for 44% of the region’s overall exports compared to 39% a year ago.

The export section of the Prince’s visit to the region has been organised by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of efforts to promote exporting and help the government achieve its target of getting up to 100,000 more SMEs to export which would generate an extra £30 billion for the UK economy.

Liz Basing, Regional Director of east of England, said:

More and more companies are finding that there is a strong demand overseas for products that have both the heritage and badge of quality given by the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp.

Today puts a group of top Bedfordshire exporters in the spotlight and I’m delighted we have the opportunity to showcase these companies as a sample of the best the county has to offer.

Companies that seek out help from UKTI do better and I encourage businesses inspired by today’s visit to get in contact with us.

Helen Nellis, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, said:

I am looking forward to welcoming the Prince of Wales to our county and introducing him to the range of excellent businesses which thrive in our community.

Jordans provides a wonderful setting in which to showcase the best of Bedfordshire.

The companies who the Prince will meet have all received, or are about to receive, support from UKTI to export. They are:

Boatswain Lighting Ltd combines the beauty of porcelain and the latest technical lighting developments to produce lights that push the boundaries of this ancient material. Individual overseas customers include the Four Seasons Hotel, Marriott Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Boatswain is a UKTI Passport to Export customer.

Brinkley Propeller Services Ltd is one of the major facilities for aircraft propeller overhaul and repair in the UK. The company is set to increase export sales with help from UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme.

The Jordans & Ryvita Company Ltd makes cereals and crackers from the manufacturing facility adjacent to the Jordans Mill Heritage Centre at Holme Mills. Jordans purchases 80% of ingredients (by volume) from UK farmers in the form of oats, rye, wheat and barley. The company’s products are enjoyed in over 60 countries.

Tusting and Burnett Ltd manufactures leather used in handbags, boots and small leather goods sold across the world. The great majority of the company’s sales come from export. They are currently participating in UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth programme and use other services including the Tradeshow Access Programme which helps companies exhibit overseas.

Walter Wright Ltd has been involved in the making of quality ladies hats for over 300 years, making them one of the oldest ‘blood line’ hat manufacturers in the world. The company designs and makes hats for individuals, film, theatre, television and supplies large and small department stores and boutiques world-wide. Walter Wright is a graduate of UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme.

Charles Wells Ltd is the UK’s largest private brewery, with some of the nation’s best loved beers. Charles Wells exports to over 40 countries, an achievement that was marked by the company receiving the ‘Queen’s Award for Export Achievement’ in 1997. UKTI is working with this company as part of our Mid-Sized Business programme.

Last month UKTI launched a new national campaign, Exporting is GREAT, which is targeting almost 3 million people with the ambition of generating 3,000 appointments with UKTI advisers and driving £1.2 billion in export revenue from the leads it generates.

With businesses earning £100,000 on average in additional sales within 18 months of working with UKTI, there is significant growth potential for SMEs that start exporting.

Notes to editors

  1. UKTI supports companies of all sizes and at all levels of export experience. In the regions, the bulk of our clients are small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and a large part of our work is about taking companies who don’t export, or who have made small scale reactive overseas sales on a journey to greater export success. Typically this will start with exports to an accessible market in Europe and move on, as the company gains expertise and wants to do more, to sales in the far east and other higher growth markets.

  2. UKTI has a team of around 30 trade advisors working with businesses throughout the east of England. The team includes 9 Sector Specialists, 3 Mid-sized Business Trade Advisers and one UK Export Finance Adviser.

  3. Companies who want to get in touch with a trade advisor should contact UKTI east of England on telephone: 0845 641 9955, email:

  4. Exporting is GREAT will reach almost 3 million individuals and 700,000 businesses with more than 4 employees, giving them a very specific call to action: to contact UKTI to find out more about exporting. It is intended to generate over 3,000 appointments with UKTI International Trade Advisers, giving small businesses direct access to expert advice, support and finance to help them export. The campaign will cost £2.4 million and drive £1.2 billion in incremental export revenue from the leads it generates. The campaign creative features 2 SMEs who have grown their business internationally as a result of UKTI advice. Their case studies are available from the UKTI press office. For more information, SMEs should go to or call 0800 093 2094.

  5. Business Population estimates for 2012 show that the east of England has just over 510,000 private sector businesses, of which 123,510 have 1 or more employees. According to the 2012 UK Regional Trade in Goods Statistics just under 8,000 of these are exporters.

  6. The region’s exports in the 12 months to end September 2013 totalled £27.52 billion. The east of England has seen an 8.7% growth of exports to countries outside the European Union at £12.11 billion – accounting for an increasing 44% of the region’s overall exports compared to 39% a year ago.

  7. Exports to Latin America are up 8.4% to £505 million. Exports to north America saw a very healthy rise of 23.9% at £4.19 billion and exports to southern Africa were up 26.1% at £893 million.

  8. The east accounts for 11.1% of all UK export trade in the second quarter of 2013.

  9. The east of England’s major export sectors are: machinery and transport – 37.5%, chemical – 16.7% and mineral fuels – 15.4% (figures for 2012 to 2013).

  10. In the 2012 Autumn Statement, UKTI was awarded an additional £70 million for each of 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015, enabling the recruitment of more international trade advisers around the country, expansion of existing services including the Trade Access Programme (TAP) and the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), and support to expand the range of assistance available to UK companies through overseas British chambers of commerce.

  11. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or visit the online newsroom at

Published 3 December 2013