The call for businesses to step up their exports in order to strengthen the UK economy has been a recurring theme for several decades, but progress has been slow.
Last week provided some tonic.
Firstly, official data showed a record jump for exports of British-made goods, which helped the country’s trade deficit fall more than expected in April.
Secondly, the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 – which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales – was published.
The league table, which has been running for seven years, shines a light on those firms that are stepping out and finding growth in overseas markets, thanks to a combination of ambition, determination and focus. It is a celebration of the export success amongst Britain’s mid-sized firms and the contribution they make to economic growth.
Featuring companies as diverse as sportswear retailer Sweaty Betty, cinema operator Vue and coffee chain Caffe Nero, this year’s number one company was EDM Group, the information management provider, backed by LDC.
We original supported the buyout of EDM in 2011, merging the business with portfolio company Sala International in the same year. Since then, we’ve supported four acquisitions, including US based Diversified Information Technologies in 2013, which proved transformational.
As the table shows, EDM – which provides records management, digital mailrooms and document digitisation - grew international sales by an average of 247% a year to £37.3m in 2015, with overseas turnover now representing more than half of total sales.
EDM’s success story is a classic example of a British business with the ambition and ability to go global.
We’re delighted for Sam and team that they’ve achieved recognition for their international strategy, which has been core to the business’ growth plan for several years. They’re an inspiration to other firms who may be considering whether to take that first step, and proof that the right strategy and support can deliver success.
Having secured a further £100m of debt funding support expansion in North America, the UK and Europe earlier this year, they also have the support to continue their impressive journey.
We were also delighted to see two other LDC portfolio companies recognised in this year’s table: Gateshead based contract manufacturing group Express Engineering (#37) and Bradford based support services firm Specialist People Services (#104). Congratulations also to former portfolio firms Mountain Warehouse (#9) and Synexus (#176).
Once again, further evidence that firms can achieve scale internationally with the right partnerships, support and ambitions.