Main content

Exporting on the up for UK small businesses

  • New Business Abroad Index reveals UK business export trends
  • Barclays Business Abroad service equips businesses with vital tools for exporting
  • Barclays will help 15,000 new SMEs to export by 2020 as part of new UKTI partnership

UK businesses saw a rise of 6% in total payments from Europe during 2015 compared to 2014, while of the top ten export destinations for UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), four fifths were in Europe. This is according to the new Barclays’ Business Abroad Index, which tracked overseas payments made to its business customers.

Germany was the UK’s primary exporting partner for the year to December, with payments from Germany to UK SMEs increasing by 6%. The second and third most popular export destinations were France and the US, with inbound payments from France seeing the biggest rise, up one place compared to the previous year. While it remained out of the top ten in 18th position, exports to China from the UK continued to grow at a steady rate, up 21% in the same period.

Steve Childs, Head of International for Business Banking at Barclays, said: “Our Index shows that UK exporting saw a small boost on the previous year, with the value of payments up as trading relationships grow globally. Long-standing relationships remain between UK businesses and European trading hubs such as Germany and France, along with the US as the top export destinations. Despite the recent slowdown in China’s economic growth, there are still huge export opportunities for UK producers.


“British products and services are in demand, and exploring overseas avenues delivers huge growth potential. The first port of call when considering exporting is identifying a target market and researching it thoroughly; learning the culture, economic and political environment, customs, market, how business is conducted and most importantly, the competition. Deciphering how a product should be sold – direct from the UK – or using distributors is also an important first step, as well as planning how a product can be promoted overseas.”


The Barclays’ Business Abroad Index also found growth in exports from the UK’s retail and manufacturing businesses in 2015, up by 36% and 10% respectively compared to 2014, despite a difficult year for the manufacturing sector.


Barclays has joined forces with the UKTI as the bank aspires to helping over 15,000 SMEs to export in the next five years under its Exporting is GREAT campaign. As part of this commitment, Barclays has also introduced new features to its Business Abroad service, driving greater solutions for business wanting to export. The service offers free access to expert guidance, advice, workshops and tools. The latest features include discounted shipping and credit insurance through partnerships with DHL and Coface, and a free app that provides live mid-market rates across 90 currencies, to support businesses with their export ambitions.


Barclays Business customers’ top 10 export destinations 2015:

Country and 2015 ranking 2014 ranking % uplift year on year

1. Germany

1. +6%

2 France

3. +19%

3. United States

2. +2%

4. Netherlands

4. +2%

5. Ireland

5. +24%

6. Italy

6. +20%

7. Spain

8. +27%

8. Switzerland

7. +9%

9. Belgium

9. +12%

10. UAE

10. +13%

Source: Barclays Business banking February 2016. Based on inbound payments.

Notes to editors

1 The Barclays’ Business Abroad Index tracks the payment flows of its Business Abroad customers to determine the country and sector performance. The Index has been compiled using payments data for 2015 and 2014. Inbound payments are used as a proxy for exports with the country, currency and industry of business used to infer the changes. 2015 comparisons are vs same period in 2014. The figures are tracked from January- December and aggregated. All data refers to Barclays’ SME businesses with turnover <£5m.

2 About Barclays Business Abroad

Barclays Business Abroad provides the tools to help businesses export for the first time with confidence. It offers free access to expert guidance, advice, workshops and tools, as well as discounts on international products and services. Business Abroad customers have access to export document preparation and a currency account. Each aspect is designed to help businesses overcome barriers to exporting. For more information visit: www.barclays.co.uk/world.

About Barclays

Barclays is an international financial services provider engaged in personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Barclays’ purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.

With 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 130,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.home.barclays .