HELP FOR CREATIVE UK EXPORTERS
The UK generates almost £18bn of service exports from the creative industries, and is a net exporter in industries including music.
If you're a creative small business, in particular, exporting may be a significant way to grow your business as discussed in this Guardian Small Business Network podcast. Download this guide to exporting.
UK Trade & Investment is a government body that works with businesses based in the United Kingdom to ensure their success in international markets, and encourages the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice. You can find a list of UKTI contacts on our partners page here.
UK Export Finance also provides financial support for UK exporters.
Below, is a sample of case studies of creative UK businesses that have been helped by UKTI in their efforts to secure overseas sales. For more information on UKTI's work, visit its website.
On this page, you can also find a guide to doing business in China.
UKTI Cases (A-Z)
Click on case title or image to download its PDF case study in full.
Accorder Music is one of the UK’s leading specialist TV and film music publishers. It matches up composers and producers, advising on contractual issues, handling negotiations, registering music, administering and collecting royalties from around the world, and helping to maximise music royalty income. The company targets overseas markets including the US, Scandinavia, Australia, Italy and Russia. With support from UKTI, the Hertfordshire-based company attended Kidscreen Summit, a key international kids’ entertainment event in New York, twice. As a result of connections made there, the company secured eight new music publishing deals.
Adrian Fisher Design is heading towards a turnover of more than £1 million for 2015, thanks to a huge increase in its exports to 90% of its business. Over the past 35 years, Adrian Fisher Design has become the leading innovator and creator of mazes. They come in a range of shapes, sizes and styles, and use mirrors, hedges, paving or panels. They can be found at castles and stately homes, theme parks, cornfields and even on the outside of a Dubai tower block. Working with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to attend international trade shows, network and identify new opportunities, the company has won work in China, the USA and Hong Kong worth over £310,000.
Joining a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) High Value Opportunity (HVO) Trade Mission to Macao gave BAGNODESIGN, a supplier of upmarket bathroom fixtures, the chance to meet with casino and resort developers, laying the foundations for relationships that could result in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business.
Established in Liverpool in 1974, Brock Carmichael offers architecture and master planning services that blend artistic style with a sustainable outlook. The company is certified as a Chartered Practice by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). As well as creating innovative new designs, it also specialises in the re-use, conversion and extension of existing buildings. It works with private and public sector clients on projects throughout the North West of England and its portfolio of designs in the UK includes the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), the Merseyside Maritime Museum and buildings in the shopping, residential and leisure complex Liverpool One. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) helped Brock Carmichael to prepare for the Shanghai World Expo 2010. Since then it has continued to support the company as it builds a presence in the Far East and wins new business worth close to £500,000.
Kent-born designer Christopher Raeburn has come a long way since his first collection of women’s wear, made from decommissioned military parachutes. He has expanded to include menswear and accessories, all the while focused on three core themes: Remade in England, using reconstructed and reworked fabrics to produce limited edition collections; Lightweight, which has become the biggest part of the business, working with recycled fibres to create showerproof and breathable garments; and British, through which he supports his domestic market by partnering with a different British mill each season. Christopher Raeburn designs are sold worldwide, including in Paris, Moscow, Milan and Beijing. UKTI has supported Christopher Raeburn in Japan.
A UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) High Value Opportunity (HVO) Trade Mission to Hong Kong and Macao allowed glass display cabinet makers, ClickNetherfield, to meet key decision makers and potential partners. The company is now well-placed to make the most of new business opportunities in these markets, which it believes could be worth more than £1 million.
Cloud Imperium Games is an ambitious crowdfunded games company in Los Angeles, which has invested in its Foundry 42 studio in Wilmslow, Cheshire, as a key part of launching a new game.
The company has raised $100m from supporters to produce a massive multiplayer online (MMO) game, 'Star Citizen', which promises to provide a convincing experience of space, whilst enabling fans to participate in the game's development process. Cloud Imperium invested £15m in the Foundy 42 Studio, and worked with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), on how to structure its investment and benefit from tax rules.
Echoic Audio is an award winning company that creates music and audio effects for advertising and media campaigns. The studio prides itself on using inventive processes, leading technology and unusual instruments to craft innovative music and sound design for film, animation and digital experiences.
Through Passport to Export,UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has helped Echoic Audio to develop an international marketing plan, and travel to key industry festivals in Barcelona and Melbourne. This has resulted in several international contracts for the company.
Since 2000, Hurricane Films has been producing television and film works of fact and fiction. The Liverpool-based company is owned and run by Sol Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter, who together have made a broad range of documentaries and films. Along the way, they have picked up several awards, including two BAFTA nominations and six Royal Television Society documentary awards.
Since the digital experience engineering company, INDE Appshaker, began to export in 2011, it has benefited from grants from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to attend overseas events and trade missions. These have led directly to new business and 95% of the company's revenue now come from outside the UK. The company, which specialises in augmented reality - supplementing a view of a physical, real-world environment with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video or graphics, to create an interactive, immersive experience - is due to open a full partner office in Asia in 2015. It aims to double its revenue by the end of 2015.
Guidance and introductions from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) led US-based technology company Intent Media to establish a new European headquarters in London. Over the next two years the company plans to use its new office as a gateway to Europe, and is foreast to create around 50 jobs.
The company developed a technology that employs predictive analytics to anticipate whether a shopper is likely to buy on a site. If not, a relevant ad is shown to help the shopper get where they are going next – often to a competitor's site. The original site benefits from a new ad revenue stream and the advertiser gets access to shoppers looking for the products it offers. Advertisers using the platform include airlines, hotels, online travel agencies and “metasearch sites” that aggregate travel booking search results. Founded in 2009, the company is based in New York, where it has a staff of more than 100.
Joining a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Trade Mission to Hong Kong and Macao was the starting point for London-based creative agency, Iskra, to win over £300,000 worth of new business in Macao.
Chris Cook had worked in a number of London’s most respected PR agencies and leading edge social media businesses before setting up Iskra in January 2014. Based in London, the company provides strategy, design and communications consultancy services. For each project, Chris brings together a bespoke team and acts as Creative Director to manage and co-ordinate them. From the outset, Chris intended for Iskra to serve clients around the world, giving them access to the very best creative talent that London has to offer.A trade mission to Hong Kong and Macao provided a key opportunity for the company to research markets in the region.
Jalapeno Records, an independent record label, music publisher and music management group, has joined several LA Sync Missions organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). As a result, the record label has secured US$150,000 worth of sync deals, with music by their artists featured on hit television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and CSI.
Jan Constantine produces luxury hand-embroidered products including cushions, harberdashery, aprons and stockings. UKTI invited Jan Constantine to join a Lifestyle Event at the British Embassy in Tokyo. Thanks to contacts that she made while there, Japan became her top export market.
Kat Maconie started her designer shoe business with the savings she had built up working in fashion recruitment. Beginning with ballet pumps, her range now includes heels and boots. Around 70 per cent of Kat’s sales come from outside the UK. As well as selling directly to retailers, she has a distributor in Italy and agents in Japan, France and the US. Over the years, she has used several UKTI services to boost her exports, and joined trade missions to Japan, South Korea and Brazil.
Having joined a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)Trade Mission to St Petersburg and Moscow, Lumsden went onto secure £45,000 of business on new projects: for the Museum of Cosmonautics and Museum of Moscow. In 2015, the company expects these concepts to be rolled out across 9 other museums in Moscow, establishing the company in Russia.
Made by Niki made over its website with guidance and funding from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).The UK lingerie company can now more easily maintain its e-Commerce relationships with customers, retail buyers and partners.
Made by Niki gives shapewear and lingerie classics a modern voice. The company’s daring designs attract the interest of a host of loyal fashion bloggers, fans and customers. Today, its collections are carried by Coco de Mer in Covent Garden and more than 100 stockists in Europe and around the world.
Based in West London, Mammoth Graphics specialises in television graphics, social media and graphic design. The company’s range of graphics solutions have been used on television programmes such as the London 2012 Olympics, The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Big Brother, and on coverage of events such as the Virgin London Marathon, Formula 1 and the Tour de France.
UKTI continues to support Mammoth Graphics as it expands into new markets.
Luxury handbag brand meli melo opened a standalone boutique in London’s fashionable Notting Hill during 2013 and its bags can be found in the major department stores around the UK, including Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason, as well as online through the meli melo website. In addition, the bags are in demand overseas and stocked in luxury department stores around the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America. Introductions, guidance and financial assistance from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has helped the company find new business in Japan and South Korea, bringing in over £500,000 in revenue.
Having started out as an apprentice learning to make bowls and other types of glassware in a company, Liam Carey eventually bought the business, renaming it Merlin Glass. Together with his wife, Carol, Liam has expanded its range to include exquisite glass knobs in a range of styles, colours and sizes. Merlin Glass not only enjoyed success in the UK, but also attracted sales enquiries through its website from Russia and Japan. In 2010, the company decided to focus on developing the business overseas, and made the US a priority market to pursue.
UKTI and its Export Communications Review provided Merlin Glass with the tools to implement a world class website and app. As a result, the family-run business saw increased traffic to its website.
Microsoft Ventures is an accelerator for tech start-ups based in London's Tech City. Since opening in September 2013, 28 companies passed through its programme by spring 2015.
This case study details how UKTI introduced Microsoft Ventures to key contacts in the sector, and helped it explain its concept to the London tech industry.
Moving Brands has worked with global clients in a range of industries, with between 60 and 80 per cent of its business at any time coming from outside the UK. It has a long-term relationship with Switzerland’s major telecommunications provider, Swisscom, creating its master brand, sub brand and a range of innovative products. It redefined the brand of Nokia and developed its internet services solution, OVI. It was also engaged by Stella McCartney’s store planning team to concept, design, build and install an iconic store-front for the its first directly-owned store in Asia.
Thanks to a UKTI Trade Mission to Singapore, Moving Brands learned more about the market for its branding services and found a new British partner with whom to service overseas clients.
MyHairDressers.com is a subscription-based service providing online training for hairdressers. It gives members worldwide access to the world’s best hairdressers, enabling them to gain the skills and accreditation to stay ahead in their profession.
Entrepreneur Mark Butcher took control of the business in August 2010, and wanted to improve his approach to exporting. On the recommendation of an acquaintance, he joined Passport to Export, the UKTI programme that gives exporting companies the tools they need to grow their busines internationally.
My Hart Canyon Music (MHCM), the Exeter-based record label and music publishing company, enjoyed success even before it was officially started when tracks by one of the acts it represents - Iko - were used in advertising and by the makers of the Hollywood blockbuster series, Twilight. Since then, the company has worked with Passport to Export, the UKTI programme that helps businesses to prepare for international markets.
Practical, personalised support from UKTI has given My Hart Canyon Music crucial contacts and renewed confidence as it promotes its artists in the US and the Netherlands.
In 2007 Cat Lewis set up her own independent production company, Nine Lives Media, focusing on current affairs programmes, factual documentaries and drama documentaries. At the time of writing, the company had made and transmitted more than 70 programmes.
With support from UKTI, the Manchester-based production company has won new business in the US and exhibited at several industry trade shows.
The Notting Hill Music Group Limited is an international independent music publishing company. It has its main base in London, a second in Los Angeles which it opened in 2003, and local representation in markets around the world. It has developed an extensive catalogue of music and represents over 25,000 copyrights recorded by artists such as Will Smith, Robbie Williams, Rihanna and Beyoncé. It is enjoying renewed success in South East Asia, thanks to support from UKTI.
Joining UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) Passport to Export programme gave Paw Print Games, an independent games studio in Chester, north west England, an introduction to effective exporting. After UKTI funding helped pay the costs of attending international exhibitions in Germany, the USA and South Korea, the computer games software company won two significant contracts – worth US$50,000 and US$150,000 - from overseas customers.
British textiles and homewares designer Penny Seume's unique designs subtly capture mood whether it is of the lights of London or the skyscrapers of New York. She uses traditional fine art techniques and contemporary digital print to create bespoke and limited edition high quality fabrics and home accessories.
Penny has exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York twice, thanks to financial support from UKTI. This has resulted in repeat orders for her products from ABC Carpet & Home stores in New York.
Through the 1990s, the family-owned Pentland acquired international brands in sports, outdoor wear and fashion, including Berghaus, KangaROOS, Mitre, Boxfresh, Red or Dead, Speedo and Canterbury. Pentland is also the global footwear licensee for Lacoste Chaussures and Ted Baker. The company has always been proactive in pursuing new markets. At the time of writing, it was present in 195 countries around the world, employed over 16,000 people and had annual sales of USD$3 billon.
UKTI supported the expansion of Pentland’s international business for several years, including help it to find a partner to introduce three of its brands to the Philippines.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the British Ambassador to Jordan played a critical role in facilitating the making of feature film Kajaki by Pukka Films. UKTI provided the British company with market knowledge, secured the support of His Majesty King Abdullah II for the project, liaised with the Jordanian Royal Court on behalf of the production team and made introductions to local investors.
Frustrated by the lack of colour in the UK bag market, designer Lowell Harder created the Radley range of colourful leather handbags and accessories with a distinctive style and a memorable logo of a small dog. This range was expanded to include watches, eyewear, iPhone and iPad cases, luggage and passport covers, washbags and scarves.
Headquartered in London, Radley has more than 30 stores in the UK, and its products are sold in over 200 locations in the UK, including major retail chains and department stores. Through its Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS),UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has helped Radley & Co. to expand its business overseas, including in Taiwan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
”Exporting brands is really my passion and our products can currently be found in almost every continent on the globe”, says Xavier Simonet, Chief Executive Officer, Radley & Co.
Sentric Music offers a comprehensive range of services to music clients. As well as registering its clients’ music with performance rights organisations to make sure that they get the money owing to them, the company also manages all correspondence, royalty claims and accounts, maximising the royalties that are generated, and searches for synchronisation and licensing opportunities to get music into TV and film.
UKTI has given ongoing support to Sentric Music, through various services, allowing it to secure new business overseas.
The Serious Games Institute specialises in applied research, business and study into how serious games can be used to enhance training and learning. It was set up at Coventry University in 2007 by Tim Luft and has since developed into an international brand for excellence in its field. In 2012, a new company, Serious Games International, was spun out of the Institute to develop commercial products that bring the excitement of computer games into real life applications.
UKTI has provided a broad range of support to Serious Games International as it expands its business into Singapore.
Seven was originally set up in London in 2002 to be a consumer magazine publisher. The agency has since grown, largely by acquisition, and in the last 5 years has broadened out to create content for multiple platforms, including digital, video and social media. At the time of writing, it has 150 employees and a turnover in excess of £20 million.
In 2012, London-based content marketing content agency, Seven, formed a partnership with Portuguese agency, Plot Content. Being connected to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the British Ambassador established Seven’s credibility in this new market.
Since Seymourpowell was set up in 1984 by Richard Seymour and Dick Powell it has become a leading design and innovation company. Its team of award-winning designers has produced some of the defining products of the last three decades, working with international brands including Tefal, Dove, Ford and Nokia on products as diverse as a kettles and toasters, toiletries, transportation design and mobile phones. Seymourpowell has its own design studio, research centre, materials library and prototyping workshop, all based in London.
Through the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) and a workshop event, UKTI has helped Seymourpowell, to secure new business in Japan.
Indian dance academy Shiamak Davar International has set up classes at six UK locations and built up a base of over 450 students. Davar, Founder and Artistic Director of The Shiamak Group is a well known Indian celebrity singer and dancer. He is the creative mind behind three dance styles: Shiamak Style Bollywood Jazz, combining Bollywood moves with Jazz techniques; Shiamak Style contemporary, a blend of classic Indian folk moves with ballet; and Shabop, inspired by new age hip-hop.
“We have found that the UK has an appreciation for arts and culture, and people here enjoy Bollywood,” says Shruti Shah, UK Business Manager and Senior Dance Instructor, Shiamak Davar International. UKTI provided contacts and assistance to the organisation.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) support for Shopitize has helped this high growth technology business expand internationally. Shopitize is a unique mobile app that allows brands to provide shoppers with rewards for buying their products, wherever they make the purchase.
Shopitize joined Passport to Export, the UKTI programme that helps businesses to prepare for international markets, in September 2014 and consequently joined a digital trade mission to New York that November. Shopitize joined another UKTI mission, with London Mayor Boris Johnson, to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Smart Cookie has benefited from several UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) programmes as it expands its client base in the US. Thanks to new business from this market, the company has recently taken on new premises in both the South East of England and in Dallas, increased its staff from ten to 40 and its turnover from £1.1 million to £3 million.
Creative agency, Smart Cookie, was launched in March 2013, a re-branding of its predecessor, Mediastation Creative Services founded in 2000. This change reflected a new direction that the company had taken in the two previous years. Rather than producing work for other agencies to sell on to their clients, it now engages directly with brands and commercial clients.
Stage One is a leading innovative creative construction and manufacturing company. It combines design, engineering and technology to deliver astonishing visual impact on a global scale and has an enviable reputation for delivering difficult projects in high profile environments. Stage One's association with the London 2012 Olympics provided the company with a global platform to showcase its capabilities and expertise. It delivered the field of play and undercroft for the beach volleyball arena, provided scenic elements and rigging for the opening and closing ceremonies and most notably was commissioned to build the Olympic Cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick.
Tangerine works with clients in a broad range of sectors, from transportation to consumer electronics, helping them to create and commercialise innovative products and services. In almost 25 years of business, the company has developed an extensive portfolio which includes devising a first class seating and cabin solution for British Airways, designing products for Samsung and Wilkinson Sword, and advising on brand strategy for the likes of SK Telecom and Amore Pacific.
Visiting Japan on UKTI Trade Missions has been an important factor in Tangerine winning new clients there. Following its visit with UKTI in 2012, the company secured a contract with automotive giant,Toyota.
Former journalist and PR boss Mike Woods has invented over 100 games, many of which he sells through his business, That Games Company. His best seller is ‘Take’, a board game with more moves than chess but only three rules. This has been sold in over 20 countries around the world, and played on the QE2, UK warships, cruise liners and seven nuclear submarines.
With the support of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), That Games Company has developed an international network of contacts that has resulted in his games being sold in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India.
Bournemouth-based Matt Desmier and his company, Think Create Do, have been building links between the UK city and Santa Monica, Los Angeles, including a successful trip by UK businesses to the US.
Desmier works with small and medium-sized businesses to improve their digital processess and marketing, including arranging the Silicon Beach event in Bournemouth. With help from UKTI, the company led a UK group visit to Los Angeles, with positive results reported by participants.
The company has also been invited to speak at several overseas events, and has increased its US presence.
Established in Manchester in 2005, TV production company Title Role’s vast and varied portfolio of content covers hard-hitting documentaries, as well as human interest pieces, such as Muslim Miss Universe, and comedy shorts, like The 4-Minute Guide to Wrecking your Life. The company works with some of the biggest broadcasters and media partners in the industry, including Sky, the Crime & Investigation Network, HISTORY and Channel 5, as well as international distributors BBC Worldwide, Warner Bros and Cineflix.
UKTI helped Title Role to capitalise on a long distance opportunity with a high-profile client in Australia. Funding provided through Gateway to Global Growth helped the company to fund a visit to Sydney where negotiations were successfully concluded and a deal reached.
Urban Front designs and manufactures steel-reinforced contemporary hardwood doors and garage doors. The doors are manufactured in Urban Front’s Buckinghamshire-based factory, which has a staff of 12 and a turnover of just under £1 million a year.Urban Front joined a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-supported Santander trade mission to the US. As a result, one of its speciality doors is now hanging in the British Consulate, it recently won an award from Houzz, and it grew its sales from this market.
Indian investment company, Vistaar, has invested £20 million in the UK’s film industry, making its post-production facility in Manchester the company's global film centre. During a UKTI Trade Mission to Mumbai in June 2014, the Deputy High Commissioner for India and the UKTI Mission Lead initiated a meeting with Vistaar to discuss the prospect of the company investing in the UK. They set out the advantages and provided information about available tax incentives available. Vistaar had considered investing in London, but UKTI advised on other locations, in particular the north west, and introduced the company to its regional partner, MIDAS.
Formed in 1980 just outside Oxford, WMP is one of Europe’s longest established creative agencies. The company has worked with big names such as 3M, Vodafone and Jaguar Land Rover and on projects that include video, product design, graphic design, live events, exhibitions, digital media and integrated solutions.
In 2011, the International Visual Communications Association (IVCA), a representative body for the industry, suggested that the company join a UKTI Trade Mission to this market. The visit was subsidised by a grant from UKTI and encompassed Nanjing, Beijing and Shanghai. Subsequent UKTI-supported visits to China and Qatar have helped the company capitalise on contacts and win overseas business. In over 30 years of business, WMP has built up an international network of tried and tested partners in a wide field of creative and technical expertise.
Sourcing books from local charity shops, World of Books Ltd was launched in August 2008, with the aim of becoming the largest used bookseller in the UK. It has since surpassed this goal to become the largest used bookseller in Europe, selling to over 4 million customers in 90 countries worldwide last year. At the time of writing, the company has a turnover in excess of £20 million.
UKTI helped World of Books Wholesale fund its attendance at the Beijing International Book Fair and set up meetings with potential new customers. The company expects to secure £100,000 of new business from contacts it met at the trade show.
When educationalist Claire Selby set up Yellow House English in 2009, she had a global vision for teaching children English as a foreign language. She had extensive experience in the field, and by the end of 2012, Yellow House English had published two complementary handbooks, redeveloped an audio course, and added to its product range two series of animated song-stories. In 2011, Yellow House English began to target the international retail market, maximising the potential of new digital media by making Baby Beetles available through the internet, DVDs, CDs, books and ultimately mobile applications.
UKTI introduced Yellow House English to Tencent, China’s largest and most used Internet service portal. The two have signed a licensing agreement, setting the scene for a publishing deal with Peking University Press.
For more information on UKTI's work, visit its website".
This guide produced by International Marketing Advisor in association with the China Britain Business Council and UK Trade & Investment is designed to help UK exporters trade in the Chinese market.