Essex businesses optimistic on exporting says Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton poll shows Essex businesses keen to export

According to research from financial and business advisers Grant Thornton, more than a third of mid-sized businesses (MSBs) in Essex expect to increase export levels over the next 12 months despite facing barriers to international success.

A recent poll conducted by Grant Thornton found that 34% of MSBs questioned are gearing up to grow their current overseas business during 2015, with a further 16% saying they plan to begin exporting for the first time. 

Essex companies breaking into new markets
Additionally, 45% of Essex MSBs polled said they were considering breaking into new overseas markets in the next 12 months, with an additional 28% stating it was a possibility. The most popular territories for future expansion cited were mainland Europe (33%) and the US (14%), while 9% of businesses equally stated China, Brazil and India as potential targets.

“It’s encouraging to see such a large proportion of our county’s MSBs with a firm eye on international business and confident about future exporting. Last year, export sales in the East of England increased by 4.5%.”

James Brown, Grant Thornton practice leader

Overcoming bureaucracy
42% of Essex firms questioned about the main barriers to doing business abroad, said overseas legislation and regulation were key challenges. A further 23% cited cultural and language difficulties as an issue with almost a quarter saying it was difficult to find the right workers abroad to take the business forward.

“A Grant Thornton report (‘Agents of Growth’) shows that UK MSBs have been outperforming other businesses when it comes to export growth. However, many still remain apprehensive of ventures into overseas markets, fearful in particular of regulatory and cultural barriers.

But the agility of MSBs actually puts them at a competitive advantage, making them very well placed to overcome those challenges and seize the opportunities in high growth markets.”

James Brown, Grant Thornton practice leader

Essex businesses optimistic on exporting Looking to markets where British goods are highly sought

“A step change in mind-set is needed from whichever party or parties take residence in Downing Street in May which must include considerations for supporting our businesses in new markets abroad, particularly where demand for ‘Brand Britain’ carries a premium. Only this will ensure a long-term, sustainable and diversified business environment.

The vast majority of MSBs looking to expand internationally tend to be focused on Western Europe and North America but it’s worth exploring beyond these regions to capitaltise on higher growth areas such as India, China and South Africa. With the right support, the rewards could potentially be even greater.”

James Brown, Grant Thornton practice leader

INVEST Essex International Trade Team
Essex International helps companies and organisations to access the Chinese market by providing unique access through an exclusive 26-year relationship with the Jiangsu province in China.  Essex International have the right connections to help businesses to export, pursue partnerships, the right expertise and in market presence develop connections and partnerships and the right experience to help organisations increase their presence in the Chinese market. 

See here for more information on Essex International

A copy of Grant Thornton’s ‘Agents of Growth’ report can be found at

Peter Manning
Peter Manning

Head of Essex International

+44 (0) 7907 025 155


Extensive 'in market' experience in China, India and the UK. 15 years in the fields of inward investment, international trade, international realtionships and business development. His experience of helping UK and Chinese businesses, universities and governments do business together has given Peter detailed knowledge of how to do business in China and a wide range of contacts. Peter has an MBA from Henley Business School (Reading University), and was awarded an OBE in 2019 in the New Year’s Honours List for UK/China Relations.