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Highlands and Islands businesses learn exporting tips

15 November 2012

Businesses interested in moving into international markets attended an export training event held in Inverness on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

In partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) held two Smart Exporter courses this week – Introduction to Developing your International Tourism Markets and Preparing to Export: Introduction.

Representatives from five organisations attended the two-day Smart Exporter Preparing to Export: Introduction course, as part of UK Trade & Investment Export Week running from November 12-16.

They included Erica Morrison, Creative Director of the Gaelic Arts Agency, Pròiseact nan Ealain and Douglas McKenzie, Managing Director of Xanthella, based near Oban which designs, produces and sells products and services relating to algal biomass.

Pròiseact nan Ealain is the national development agency for the Scottish Gaelic arts and is based in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. The agency works nationally and internationally to research, develop and pilot new initiatives in the Gaelic arts. In recent years it has developed An Leabhar Mòr, The Great Book of Gaelic which is a major contemporary book of artwork that brings together the work of more than 200 visual artists, poets and calligraphers from Scotland and Ireland.

Erica said: “Over the years, we have been touring the exhibition of artworks used in the book throughout the UK, Ireland, France, Australia, Canada and the USA. We would like to export our products to other countries around the world and need to explore various markets overseas. Attendance on this course means that we have been given the tools to prepare us for exporting. It has all been extremely informative and will definitely help us in tailoring an export action plan to suit the needs of Pròiseact nan Ealain.

Douglas said: “As algal biomass is expensive to produce, Xanthella is developing products which are more cost effective. The market for the devices Xanthella is currently commercialising is global and continuing to grow. We have received sales enquiries from a variety of research organisations from within Europe and around the world. Attendance on the course gave me a better understanding of the issues involved in exporting.

“During the course we discussed all the things we need to deal with in terms of customers from overseas such as pricing and whether we want to use direct sales or use distributors. We learned a lot about putting together an export plan and identified ways of simplifying the process of exporting. The USA is a very big market for us and we eventually would like to engage with customers in China and other countries.”

Ruth Sime, Head of Business Programmes said: “Exporting can help businesses to increase their revenues by entering new markets and diversifying the customer base. HIE has been working with SDI to help businesses in the Highlands and Islands to develop their international trade and we have a wide range of support services available to assist businesses who are entering new markets for the first time or looking to expand overseas. “

Smart Exporter is delivered by Scottish Development International in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, supported by the European Social Fund.

Find out more about HIE's exporting support

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