The May meeting of the International Trade Club sponsored by Cassons was the 2nd meeting of the year and welcomed 10 new members to the Club. The Club is there to help importers and exporters develop their knowledge and skills and share experiences with fellow members.

View the photos here

Freddie Blackman from AEI Saudi told the audience that Saudi Arabia was in the process of transforming the economy from one based almost completely on oil to a modern, diversified economy. With a population of 31.5m, including 70% under the age of 30, they are looking to develop the private sector and to create new jobs for their young population. Society is starting to become more liberal, festivals and other public events are now regularly taking place, cinemas have re-opened after a 35-year absence, and there are now more opportunities for women, most notably the freedom to drive from June this year.

The country has developed a Public Investment Fund that is investing in entertainment, healthcare and tourism, as well as defence and security. This investment is creating many new opportunities for British companies who are well respected within the marketplace.

To benefit from this Freddie said, “companies need to get out to the market and meet people face-to-face, build relationships and conduct thorough due diligence to ensure they choose the right partners”. He added that “Planning, Patience, Presence, Partner and Payment” was the mantra for success, simply meeting one of the Kingdom’s 12,000 princes is not the answer.

The 2nd speaker of the day, Egle Mecinskaite-Olivi, extolled the virtues of the Queen’s Awards for excellence, especially in the International Trade category, which routinely receives the most nominations. She told the audience, “The process is a simple self-nominating process which has just opened and closes in mid-September. It is open to companies large and small.” She added “Entries are validated, and short-listed companies are then required to provide audited accounts. The awards are approved by the Prime Minister and HM The Queen and awarded on April 21st the following year, the Queen’s birthday.”

The awards last for 5 years and as well as being able to display the flag and use the prestigious logo provides global recognition and can open new markets and increase sales.

The local dimension was provided by Lucy Murphy from the Printed Cup Company. The company was established in 2005 and has grown on the back of a growing coffee culture. The Printed Cup Company are unique in that they have no minimum order and don’t charge extra for each additional colour, which is the typical charging model for this market.

2017 was another year of real growth for the business. Lucy said “Last year we produced 15.4m cups. We developed 1750 new and regular customers and we now export to 26 countries across the world. Certification is important in our business to open new markets.”

Regarding the export challenges the audience was told it was all about managing risks. Her top tips were getting to know your customers, attend meet the buyer events, and never give overseas agents exclusivity deals. She added “Customs regulation can also be difficult, which is something that is likely to get worse rather than better.”

Lucy then touched on recycling saying “Whilst 98% of the cup is cardboard 2%, the plastic lining, is not and whilst the goal is a 100% recyclable cup it is not possible yet.

The meeting concluded with a request from Annaliese Lambe from HMRC telling the audience that she had been commissioned to gain input from exporting companies about their requirements from a new system that was being introduced by HMRC. She said “I want to be able to represent the views of local businesses when I sit in the room with the team of developers working on the new system. To do this I need you to speak to me.”

To view the video of the breakfast meeting, click here

For more information about the International Trade Club please contact Marie White on or 01254 356448