Former UKTI trade adviser Jenny Robson has founded Routes and Branches Ltd, a boutique export consultancy which helps British small businesses owners grow their companies and break into export markets.
She launched the consultancy, based in Leeds and London, after several years working with UKTI in The Hague, The Netherlands, and with the British Chamber of Commerce, Singapore, as part of the Government’s Overseas Business Network initiative.
She says: “When I was working in Singapore, I realised that there is great potential for British businesses to trade overseas but many are over cautious about making the move and unsure about how to structure their business to prepare for new contracts which may come from overseas sales.
“We usually work with small enterprises of between two, and five, years old which have exported or are about to. Generally we start by auditing where they are now and where they want to be, together with an analysis of their export potential. We then help them to align their current systems with their growth potential so they have a stable, profitable UK base from which to start competing for new overseas contracts.”
Routes and Branches has ten UK associates based mostly in Yorkshire and London, each with their own expertise, including human resources, translation services, sales training and copywriting, to support client businesses as they grow and communicate with overseas markets.
The consultancy also has international trade advisers in many countries, with an in-depth understanding of their domestic market. These include in faster-growing, further-afield territories such as Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, and the US.
Jenny adds: “Initially the overseas potential we identified was for British manufactured goods, which have a great reputation overseas, and this area has formed most of our work. Now we are now seeing an interest in professional services, such as high-quality legal advice and information technology, and can work in these areas too.”
Routes and Branches can also offer compliance services through its association with Galvin International to help its clients ensure that their products suit, or can easily be adapted to, the export markets they wish to target.
“We do not see ourselves as competing with UKTI or Chamber International both of whom I have great respect for” Jenny adds ”but in complementing their services to help UK SMEs reach out to overseas markets where they can be successful.
“If it were not for the fantastic work which organisations, such as Chamber International, do at grass roots level we would not be able to offer the wide range of support we do to help our own clients.
“Brexit means that there are opportunities for UK businesses to look further afield and some are already doing so. We should not disregard the EU but complement our relationship there by strengthening or creating new links elsewhere.
“If we do this, I think there can be a bright outlook for UK exporters. I used to work opposite Theresa May’s office in the Houses of Parliament in 2006/7. She has held the view that Britain can become a global trading nation for many years and it has influenced my strategy with Routes and Branches.”