Figures reveal value of London's export trade

10 November 2014

Pioneering research released today (10 November) has revealed that businesses in London exported £147 billion of goods and services to customers outside the UK over twelve months up to the middle of 2014, and small and medium sized enterprises in the capital are exporting at nearly twice the rate of large firms.


The Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, Kit Malthouse, will welcome 100 businesses to City Hall for an event to mark the start of Export Week today, and release the most comprehensive data yet recorded on exporting by businesses in the capital. He will also outline plans for more overseas trade missions within the next year that small and medium sized businesses from London will be able to take part in.


The research released by the Greater London Authority today details how almost one third of London businesses (141,000) are now exporters and that around four fifths of those exporters sold goods and services to customers in Europe, while two thirds of them made sales to the rest of the world. The figures also revealed that, when compared against the value of imports, London creates a surplus of £28billion from exported goods and services.


The Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, Kit Malthouse, said: “These figures confirm that exports of goods and services already offer an incredible value to London’s economy. And small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy, are playing a huge part in that. Some of them are entrepreneurs, some start-ups, some seasoned business people, but all are demonstrating the global reach of London’s exports. Great strides have been made but we must continue to increase London’s exports in new overseas markets. Shifting just a few per cent more sales to customers overseas can create billions of pounds more value for London and indeed the UK.”


The Mayor of London’s export team have played a key role in helping small and medium sized businesses in the capital take advantage of foreign markets. They work alongside UK Trade & Investment to deliver the Mayor’s Export Programme, which has already engaged with over 500 businesses through trade missions, events and workshops, taking 70 businesses overseas on trade missions.


The Mayor’s Export Programme particularly focusses on businesses in the Technology and Life Sciences sectors. Today the Mayor committed to delivering four new trade missions for firms in the capital over the next 12 months, as part of an intensive programme of work that will look to engage with over 1,000 businesses. Supported by the London Enterprise Panel and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Mayor’s Export programme aims to assist companies entering overseas markets for the first time or existing exporters to consider entering more complex markets, particularly those outside Europe.


Two major new missions will take place in the first weeks of 2015. On 19 January up to 15 businesses will head to Ningbo, near Shanghai, to take part in a programme designed to develop business skills and marketing strategies for the powerful Chinese market. On 9 February businesses representing the life sciences sector will head to the United States to attend a major biotechnology conference in New York and then head to Boston, which is one of the world’s leading centres for biomedical research, to explore new business possibilities.


Tom Adeyoola, the Chief Executive of Metail, took part in a mission to Brazil that was organised as part of the Mayor’s Export Programme in September 2013. The business opportunities he encountered led to the creation of eight jobs for his company. Tom said: “The mission to Brazil allowed me to evaluate first hand a market that I probably otherwise wouldn't have committed to. From face to face contact we were able to establish a business transforming client relationship that has also had knock-on effects to market growth for us in Asia. What is clear to me now and what all entrepreneurs should consider is that it pays to place your product where the market moves quickest. Think global day one. 75 per cent of our revenues as a young start-up already come from abroad. The UKTI, Mayor's office and embassy network is a fantastic resource for help, connections and local knowledge.”


A London-based tech start up called RefME, who are forecasting a £100 million valuation within the year, are attending the event at City Hall. Run by a team in Shoreditch, they attended a recent Mayor’s export mission to the United States. They are the first ever digital referencing tool for students and are signing up 10,000 users a day from universities ranging from Harvard to Imperial College London.


Ian Forshew , Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of RefME, said: “London is a fantastic city to start a business in, and one of the elements giving it an edge is the brilliant infrastructure and support available to entrepreneurs from the likes of the UKTI and Mayor of London’s office. The sad truth is though that most business owners don’t tap into it, which is a real missed opportunity. There are literally thousands of people employed by the government around the world who can help open the doors to new markets for British businesses, and we’ve benefitted from it.


“There is a world of opportunity for SMEs and events like Celebrating Exports provide a real opportunity for London to champion the world class talent that the city holds. For RefME, having global exposure is key to making the business a success. As the leading app and web-based referencing tool, access to partners, potential investors and the 150 million university students worldwide is crucial, and these organisations have helped deliver that.”

Notes to editors

  • The 'London Business Survey 2014: Exports' paper is available from the Mayor of London’s press office via the contact details below.