LEP sets its sights on export growth


Boosting business growth and adding £2.6billion to the Leeds City Region economy are the aims of an ambitious new export drive by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The LEP is launching its We are International campaign on 14 November at the major regional ExploreExport 2012 event, taking place in Leeds as part of UK Export Week.

Led by the LEP in partnership with UKTI and Chamber International, the campaign aims to help more city region companies take advantage of the significant business opportunities in emerging markets, and provide more support for existing and potential exporters to realise their growth potential.

*************** Media invitation ***************

All media are invited to attend the launch of the We are International campaign.

Where: Doubletree Hotel, Granary Wharf, Leeds, LS1 4BR

When: 14 November 2012, 12.30 – 1.15pm

Launch event programme:

12.30 – 12.35

Welcome and background to the campaign – Neil McLean, Chair of Leeds City Region LEP Board

12.35 – 12.50

We are International campaign – presentation by Eric Hawthorn, Managing Director of Radio Design and lead panel member for international trade on Leeds City Region Business, Innovation and Growth Panel

Brief Q&A on the campaign

12.50 – 1.00

Launch of Leeds City Region Export Club and endorsement of campaign from Chambers of Commerce – Sandy Needham, Chief Executive of Bradford Chamber

1.00 – 1.10

Endorsement by Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UKTI


Concluding remarks – Neil McLean

1.15 – 1.30pm

Interviews with speakers

Please contact racheal.johnson@leeds.gov.uk or 07712214133 if you wish to attend the launch event and arrange interviews with speakers.

*************** Media invitation ***************

The cornerstone of the campaign is an ‘export champions’ network, giving would-be exporters the chance to learn from city region businesses that are already doing business overseas.

Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP Board, Neil McLean said:

“As the largest manufacturing base in the country, and the UK’s largest regional financial centre, Leeds City Region should be in prime position to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in emerging markets.

“Our research shows that companies which trade internationally are more innovative, more productive and more resilient than those that don’t. Many of our businesses are already realising the benefits of international trade – the objective of this campaign is to give new exporters the chance to learn from those who have been there and done it already. We hope as many seasoned exporters as possible will support the campaign, and help our region punch its weight internationally.”

Eric Hawthorn, Managing Director of exporting firm Radio Design and a member of the Leeds City Region’s Business, Innovation and Growth Panel added:

“Companies serious about their long-term growth prospects need to be thinking internationally. International trade is certainly key to the continued growth of my business. When we started out in 2007, we were able to get off the ground here in the UK but for long-term expansion we have to look overseas and exports now account for 27% of our sales.

“There’s a lot of support out there to make it easier for companies to trade internationally – UKTI in particular has helped us establish our operations in India and China. Take advantage of this support and explore your export potential. If your product or service has a market here, it will almost certainly have a market overseas.”

The We are International campaign is one of a range of measures to increase exports, agreed as part of the Leeds City Region City Deal announced earlier this year. The deal sets an ambitious target of eliminating the city region’s current £1billion trade deficit and achieving a surplus of £1.6billion by 2018.

A key objective of the deal is to halve the gap between exports to the EU and emerging markets that offer the biggest growth potential. The latest Quarterly Economic Survey, published by the LEP and the Leeds City Region Chambers of Commerce earlier this month, revealed that a current over-reliance on exports to the US and Europe is hindering the growth of city region firms by dampening export sales.

Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UKTI said:“I’m delighted to endorse the We are International campaign. This is an innovative example of how UKTI and LEPs can work together to further our shared ambitions of helping more businesses realise the tremendmous benefits of international trade.”

Companies interested in becoming export champions are invited to register at www.weareinternational.co.uk. In return for varying levels of support, champions will have the chance to promote their export success via the LEP website, events and media stories.

Other campaign initiatives will include an export club – also being launched on 14 November – a series of local workshops and events, and online resources via the LEP’s business website.

Notes to editors:

We are International campaign

  1. The We are International campaign is a business-to-business campaign, led by the LEP in partnership with UKTI and Chamber International

  2. The key components of the campaign are:

  • Export champions network – a city region-wide network, offering would-be exporters the chance to learn from other companies that are already doing business overseas. Companies can become export champions by registering at www.weareinternational.co.uk. In return for their support, export champions will have the opportunity to promote their export success on the LEP website and various other channels.

  • Export club – led by Chamber International, the export club aims to provide business-to-business networking opportunities for experienced and novice exporters. It will give companies opportunities to share contacts and advice, and learn from the experience of other firms.

  • Online tools and resources – online tools and resources to support would-be exporters are available at the LEP’s business website and at www.weareinternational.co.uk. A range of new online tools will be launched in 2013

  • Local events and workshops – campaign partners will be providing a wider range of events and workshops in towns and cities across the city region, providing training in key export skills and further opportunities at the local level for business-to-business networking and mentoring

We are international campaign launch – speaker profiles

Nick Baird – CEO, UK Trade & Investment

Nick Baird was appointed Chief Executive of UKTI in September 2011.

Prior to this, since 2009 he was Director General, Europe and Globalisation and Member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Board - leading the FCO's work on Europe, global economic issues, migration and consular.

Nick was HM Ambassador to Turkey from 2006-2009, leading work on Turkey's EU process and regional conflicts.

He has also worked on immigration policy at the Home Office, and as head of the European Union Department at the FCO.

Neil McLean – Chair, Leeds City Region LEP Board

Neil was, until May 2011, the Managing Partner of DLA Piper's office in Leeds, the largest office in EMEA outside of London. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world, having very successfully developed from its Yorkshire base over the last 15 years to now incorporate 3,700 lawyers in 28 countries and 66 offices around the world. Neil also sat on the firm's UK, European and Far Eastern Board together with the Remuneration and Audit Committees until January 2009.

Neil remains as a Consultant to the firm focussing on major property development transactions and has a mentoring role within the business. By discipline he is a Real Estate lawyer and has been cited as one of the North's leading Real Estate lawyers for well over 15 years.

Neil was appointed as Chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership at its commencement in April 2011, based upon his involvement in the business community and the area of education and skills and in order to give focus to the education and skills agenda within the city region. The LCR LEP has made substantial progress since its creation and skills form a major part of its agenda and of the agenda with Government in terms of the City Deals which are currently taking place.

Neil has worked in Yorkshire for all of his professional life and is currently a resident of Harrogate.

Eric Hawthorn – Managing Director, Radio Design

Eric Hawthorn is the managing director, and founder, of Radio Design – a market-leading manufacturer of wireless infrastructure sharing solutions and RF filter systems, headquartered in Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Eric's background covers over 25 years in mobile communications systems, having worked in the UK, USA and Canada with companies such as Plessey, Bell Northern Research [Nortel Networks], M/A-Com, Filtronic and of course Radio Design since its inception in 2007. Having led the company through dramatic early growth, Eric is now driving the strategy behind the next phase of Radio Design's global expansion.

Proud recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation, Radio Design has grown at a stunning rate since its foundation in 2007. Already, in its short but illustrious history, Radio Design has been selected as sole suppliers to both the world’s largest shared wireless network and to the London 2012 Olympic games. It has received numerous professional accolades such as "one of Britain’s Brightest Businesses" [Daily Telegraph], "Young Innovative Business of the Year" [Innovator 10 Awards], "Technical Innovation of the Year" [Telegraph & Argus] and reaching the final of the Royal Academy of Engineering [MacRobert] Awards.

Radio Design has already established a worldwide footprint, with facilities in the UK, India, Finland and China, to support its international network of operator/OEM partners throughout the world.

Sandy Needham – Chief Executive, Bradford Chamber

Sandy joined the Chamber network in 1997 and was Chief Executive of Chamber Management Services, a joint venture owned by the Bradford, Leeds and York and North Yorkshire Chambers until 2001. Since then she has been Chief Executive of the Bradford Chamber, as well as a Director of its subsidiary company, the Bradford Enterprise Agency, involved in providing business loans.

The Bradford Chamber is the voice of around 1,100 local businesses of all sizes and sectors and it provides a wide range of business services, primarily in the Bradford District. It is also responsible for Chamber International – Yorkshire’s forerunner for international trade. Chamber International offers a wide-range of services for Yorkshire companies looking to trader internationally, including documentation services, financial and regulatory advice, professional development and networking opportunities and market research and information.

Leeds City Region Partnership

  1. The Leeds City Region (LCR) Partnership brings together a group of 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council) with businesses and partners to support economic growth and a better quality of life for our communities.

  2. The Leeds City Region was one of the very first to form a private sector - led local enterprise partnership (LEP) and commit to working closely with both the private and public sectors in order to help businesses and the economy grow. The body representing the LEP – The LEP Board – is now working alongside the Leaders Board to deliver the Partnership’s economic plan which was launched in September 2011.

  3. The Leeds City Region is the largest city region economy and financial centre in the country outside London. With a £53billion economy representing 5% of England’s economy, over 100,000 businesses and a 3 million population, the city region will continue to be at the forefront in both driving the economy of the north and accelerating national economic prosperity.

  4. For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit www.leedscityregion.gov.uk.


For press/media enquiries please contact:

Racheal Johnson, Policy and Communications Officer

Leeds City Region Partnership

Tel: 0113 2474584/ 07525 988361