Press release

UK businesses’ sizzling summer exports

UK exporters of summer fruits, sports equipment and ice creams are hoping to bask in another 'season of sun-sational' highs.


Other top exports for the July to September quarter which could soar include sunglasses, umbrellas and swimwear, according to figures for the July to September (quarter 3) of 2013.

Following British tennis star Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon in 2013, international sales of tennis rackets rose by 26% to £432,000 in quarter 3 of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. The top recipient was Belgium.

Strawberries, the favourite food of tennis fans, also increased in sales by 56% to £762,000 and the top recipient was the Netherlands. Meanwhile apples soared by 19% to £5.2 million.

Major England cricket rivals Australia were the top buyers of UK cricket equipment as sales of balls increased by 438% to £256,000 and other equipment by 52% to £1.3 million.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government department that helps UK-based companies win business overseas and brings investment to the UK, is leading a summer scorcher of events to promote British business. These include a British Business House at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the International Festival for Business in north-west England.

Dominic Jermey, Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment, said:

The made in Britain brand is sought after across the world. This year, like last, people will be taking holidays and relaxing with products grown, made or designed by UK businesses.

During these summer months we are running targeted events to help even more UK firms capitalise on the excellent global reputation we have for our goods and services. UKTI provides the practical support and access companies need to not just to trade abroad, but to thrive there.

Ice cream and ice lolly sales soared by 51% to £27 million, sunglasses by 49% to £19.4 million, umbrellas by 14% to £2.8 million and swimwear by 32% to £2.5 million. Ireland was the main buyer of our ice creams, Thailand our sunglasses, Ireland our umbrellas and Germany our swimwear.

Other top grossing items for UK exporters included cars at £5.7 billion, golf clubs at £24.1 million and water sports equipment at £2.7 million. China is the top recipient of our cars, Germany for golf clubs and France for water sports equipment.

UKTI’s expert international trade advisors can help new exporters with practical advice and support to seek out new international customers.

One British company which has benefitted from UKTI’s expertise and support to export its innovative water sports product is Northampton-based SwimFin. Company founder Kevin Moseley created the world’s first and only vertical buoyancy aid, which, in the shape of a shark fin, helps children swim. The company started exporting in 2008 and has been able to break into new markets like Germany with help from UKTI providing market knowledge, export advice and translation services. By 2010 it was exporting to over 80 countries worldwide.

Emma Gibson, Sales and Marketing Manager, said:

We are really committed to exporting as there are untapped markets and much more opportunity across the world for innovative and unique quality products. Opening up to exporting allows us to continually grow.

We have seen export sales grow in recent years as a result of swim schools adopting new teaching equipment and parents trusting our brand to provide safety and confidence in the water when learning to swim. We are committed to helping everyone wanting to improve their abilities in the water.

UKTI has been extremely helpful in assisting us with export knowledge, networking opportunities and raising awareness in key global markets.

UKTI’s British Business House will be held at the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to showcase the best of the UK to global business leaders visiting Scotland. It will highlight the UK’s investment and trade opportunities through a programme of strategic talks and meetings, and feature the best of British innovation.

This summer UKTI is also playing a key part in the UK’s first International Festival of Business in Liverpool. In a range of market and sector events and at International Festival Hub, trade advisors are providing businesses with tailored advice and support to help them broaden their export horizons.

Notes to Editors:

1.Breakdown of summer exports to see a rise for quarter 3 of 2013 from the same quarter in 2012.

Summer item Export value in 2012Q3 (£) Export value in 2013Q3 (£) Percentage change (%), 2012Q3 – 2013Q3 Largest export market in 2013Q3
Apples 4.4 million 5.2 million 19 Ireland
Balls 960,000 1.2 million 27 France
Blackcurrants 2,800 7,200 159 France
Cars 4.6 billion 5.7 billion 23 China
Cricket and polo balls 48,000 256,000 438 Australia
Cricket and polo equipment 840,000 1.3 million 52 Australia
Sandals (leather) 490,000 640,000 30 Germany
Golf clubs 23.1 million 24.1 million 4 Germany
Ice cream and ice lollies 18 million 27 million 51 Ireland
Inflatable balls 1.7 million 2 million 16 France
Pears 182,000 421,000 132 Ireland
Plasters and dressings 39.6 million 53.1 million 34 USA
Strawberries 490,000 762,000 56 Netherlands
Sunglasses 13 million 19.4 million 49 Thailand
Swimwear 1.9 million 2.5 million 32 Germany
Tennis rackets 344,000 432,000 26 Belgium
Umbrellas (rain and sun) 2.4 million 2.8 million 14 Ireland
Water sports equipment (including surf boards and water skis) 2.1 million 2.7 million 29 France

Source: BIS Analysis based on HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics database

2. UK Trade and Investment:

UK Trade and 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

3.The International Festival of Business is a 50-day business festival hosted in Liverpool during June to July 2014. Comprised of more than 200 world-class events running back to back, the festival is a key part of the government’s ambition to promote economic growth, rebalance the economy and double exports by 2020. It is a showcase for Great British industries and sectors, one that will connect UK businesses to new markets, new products and partners.

4.The British Business House will be held at Glasgow City Chambers between 23 to 25th July 2014. It will use the Commonwealth Games as a backdrop to showcase the UK to global business leaders visiting Scotland. It will highlight the UK’s investment and trade proposition through a programme of strategic talks and meetings, and feature the best of British innovation.

Decision makers, investors and governments from the UK and across the Commonwealth will have the opportunity to participate in a series of high level roundtable and seminar sessions, schedule meetings and network. The Commonwealth Games 2014 offers a fantastic opportunity to enhance the UK’s reputation as an experienced and dynamic business partner and to build on the London 2012 Olympic legacy by boosting investment, jobs and growth.

5.About SwimFin

SwimFin is the world’s first and only vertical buoyancy aid. Kevin Moseley came up with the idea for SwimFin in the late 1980s when he was working as a self-employed Swimming Instructor. He tied a couple of floats together into a shark fin shape and used it to play games with the children. It was so popular he realised it had potential as a product in its own right. In 2006 he took the idea to Dragons Den, and impressed the dragons thoroughly. Although the dragons offered Kevin an investment he decided to go it alone and in 2008 SwinFin officially launched in the UK. It was immediately endorsed by the ASA (UK’s governing body for swimming) and was extremely popular. By 2010 SwimFin was exporting to over 80 countries.

Published 30 June 2014