• On Friday 27th January businesses attended a discussion at the Bishop Auckland Town Hall focused on the export-led growth opportunities for local SMEs
  • Helen Goodman MP shared insights on the importance of ensuring that businesses have the right access to finance and encouraged attendees to contribute to the wider UK export agenda.
  • Jonathan Thompson, Divisional Managing Director for the North, Santander, chaired the discussion.
  • Local businessman Andrew Street from Liberty Drums also spoke.
  • Analysis of official ONS data shows that the number of businesses in the North East that exported goods and/or services rose by 14% across 2014-2015 – however, the region has the lowest number of firms that export.

The number of businesses in the North East that exported goods and/or services rose by 14% across 2014-2015, according to analysis of the latest official data from the ONS1. However, while this was the third-largest increase in terms of all UK regions, the absolute number of firms in North East that export remains low – at 4,200, the smallest of any UK region.

To help increase the number of firms that export, foster stronger exports from the region and drive growth, Santander UK hosted a roundtable event with Helen Goodman MP last Friday in Bishop Auckland to discuss and explore growth and international expansion opportunities.

Local businesses attended the discussion, which is part of a series of events that Santander is holding throughout 2017 in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce – in this case, with the North East England Chamber of Commerce. Andrew Street, CEO of Liberty Drums, a local business which is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary and is exporting to the US, France, Denmark, Germany and other countries, shared with attendees some anecdotes about his business’ journey and how he turned his passion for drums into a full-time job; and reiterated the importance of having the right support in order to expand overseas.

Andrew Street said: “Thanks to the help from the Department for International Trade (former UKTI) and Business Durham, the journey for Liberty Drums has been globally successful. Liberty Drums is now a global leader in percussion drum manufacture and design with growing export links at global level. Discussions like this one hosted by Santander UK are very valuable to raise awareness of the support available for SMEs looking to grow internationally”.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, agreed on the importance of contributing to the wider UK export agenda and said: “Exporting remains a major focus for UK plc and the range and depth of support available to businesses in the North East is huge. This event has highlighted this support and showcased how exporting can significantly drive growth and bring new opportunities. It is really important that local businesses feel confident and optimistic about the global trade opportunities open to them; indeed, that have never been closer.”

Jonathan Thompson, Divisional Managing Director for the North, Santander, said: “Santander is delighted to have organised this important discussion at a critical time for the North East and wider UK economy. We know that many North East firms want to export and hope this event will help them realise these ambitions. Exporting is fundamental to the success of the UK and Santander’s international trade proposition is focused on helping businesses recognise and take the opportunities open to them.”

In September 2016, Ana Botín, Santander Group’s Executive Chairman, signed a gift agreement to donate £600,000 over a three year period to Durham University to help fund the Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art in Bishop Auckland, County Durham – the largest single donation made by Santander to a UK university.