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International Trade Conference balances gains and perils

The key message from last week’s Future for International Trade Conference (March 17) was that while export is likely to outperform the home market in the coming year, it is vital for both importers and exporters to ensure they are not dependent on any one territory for either sales or supply chain. The conference was hosted by BHETA jointly with fellow trade associations Gardenex and PetQuip.

Current and novice UK exporters gained insights on current challenges and opportunities, and advice on how to proceed successfully. Speakers included UK government insiders, successful companies exporting from the UK, market analysts, and legal, financial and compliance advisors.

The key points were, firstly, that here is continued growth opportunity in home and garden improvement, thanks to macro-factors such as home-based work and play, privacy, security and wellbeing.

Secondly, it is likely that well-managed export will prove more buoyant than the home market in 2022/23, owing to the squeeze on disposable income in the UK. Thirdly, there is a crucial need to become less dependent on any one source, supply chain or geographic market as ‘economic warfare’ (ie sanctions and cessation of trade) becomes a reality across the world and not just in relation to the current Ukraine-crisis.

Conference attendees (including housewares suppliers) heard keynote speaker Shelley Boyle, head of business development at ManoMano, who discussed how the online retailer can offer a clean and simple way to ‘export’ into numbers of European territories while avoiding the administrative implications of Brexit.


Other speakers at the conference included UK government lobbyist, John Arnold, who outlined the Government’s current views on international trade opportunities and threats, compliance expert Tim Hiscock from Strong & Herd, and Rathbone’s Olivia Merrick with an insightful worldwide economic forecast. Meanwhile, international legal expert Andy Hood from Fieldfisher and CP Euromonitor International’s Nick Stenec onfirmed the sector opportunities across the globe.  The conference also heard from established exporters, Croydex, Spear & Jackson, Monument Tools, Grow Sow Simple and Chickenguard, all giving practical details of how they are succeeding in export.

Above: BHETA’s Will Jones.
Above: BHETA’s Will Jones.

Will Jones, BHETA’s chief operating officer commented: “What this very successful conference demonstrated was that, with informed good practice, export opportunities are very real in the home, garden and pet sectors.  It also showed that, while the challenges of Brexit remain, there other hurdles being presented by the pandemic and by military and economic warfare that should be addressed urgently.”

He continued: “These hurdles are surmountable but planning for a different world should start immediately for any UK company reliant on import, export or both.  A proactive approach now can ensure that the undoubted opportunities can be realised going forward.”

In conclusion, Will said: “This was key occasion for all companies in our sectors who are interested in maximising their export opportunities.  It was equally informative for any company in the sector which imports products or components, whether or not they export as well.”


Top: Conference attendees benefited from the experiences of various importers and exporters.

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