A West Midlands maker of prestige hand-built sports cars is motoring after securing business in China for the first time, with help from the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).
The news from Westfield Sportscars, which is based at Gibbons Industrial Park, Dudley, comes just a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping conducted a four-day visit to the UK.
It took three years to complete the negotiations and the company has won an initial contract from GD Aero Technology of Shanghai for more than 100 of its British-designed and engineered, hand built vehicles to be distributed across Asia.
Julian Turner, managing director of Westfield Sportscars Ltd, which has exported more than 12,000 vehicles worldwide since it was launched in 1983, singled out Paul Keeling, International Trade Adviser at UKTI in the West Midlands, for praise, saying the organisation had played a vital role in helping it to access the Chinese market.
He added that securing export trade in the country – an expanding market for UK businesses, with UK exports increasing by more than 37% in the last two years – had also helped to safeguard the 20 jobs at the Black Country headquarters.
Julian said: “It has been hard work to secure this contract but now we have signed on the dotted line, I couldn’t be happier.
“We’ve worked with Black Country UKTI since 2007, when we signed up to the Passport to Export scheme and we’ve progressed since then. I really don’t think we would be here if it wasn’t for UKTI; its help has been invaluable.
“Exporting cars comes with the strictest of regulations – it’s the toughest market to be in for exporting – but the advice and support we have had has been the reason why we’ve pursued our export ambitions.
“We are delighted to work with General Dynamic Aero Tech. There is genuine technological and advanced manufacturing crossover between the aerospace and sportscar sectors, and both Westfield and GDAT have a fantastic reputation in their local markets.
“If we as a car marker can succeed as an exporter, then we honestly believe anyone can and we would encourage any business thinking about exporting to go and find out what help they can get.”
It is the fifth country that the luxury car maker has found success with, thanks to the work it has done with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). It is also now trying to forge relationships with Chinese universities for collaborative research and development projects.
Westfield, which produces more than 400 cars a year, has pursued an ambitious growth programme since it began exporting in 2008, when it embarked on its first export programme to Malaysia.
Since then, it has since worked closely with Paul Keeling to gain access to markets such as Japan and Brazil.
Paul Keeling said: “Westfield Cars is a superb example of how an ambitious company that offers a unique, quality product can make a real success of their business overseas.
“We’ve worked very closely with the company and its approach of really understanding the markets it wants to enter and spending time doing its research on those countries pays dividends.”
Businesses can meet experts on how to access the Chinese market – and other global territories – at ExploreExport, the flagship event of UKTI West Midlands’ week-long Export Week. A series of seminars, bootcamps and activities are taking place across the region between November 9 and 13, all of which aim to offer advice on how to build contacts in new markets and boost export sales.
ExploreExport, on November 12, is set to be the biggest and most high profile yet. It is being held at The Vox, in Birmingham, and will include interactive seminars, a drop-in lounge and the chance to meet with more than 60 commercial officers.
The week will include events on key overseas markets and sectors, digital workshops, and opportunities for women-led businesses and young entrepreneurs who want to spread their wings into the international market.
For more information about all the events running during Export Week, visit http://www.exportweek.ukti.gov.uk/full/