21 November, 2014 - 10:30 By News Desk

UKTI CASE STUDY – Specialist Recruitment Partners (SRP)

Donja Nabil El Gendy, a senior commercial attaché based with UKTI team in Doha, Qatar

More East of England companies should consider their potential in Middle East markets says UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), whose support has enabled a Bedfordshire company to land a lucrative Saudi deal within weeks of making its first foray into overseas trade.

“During the last 12 months we have seen a 28 per cent increase in the number of British businesses that have, with our help, exported to the UAE alone,” says Interim UKTI East Regional Director Thinley Topden.  

Donja Nabil El Gendy, a senior commercial attaché based with UKTI team in Doha, Qatar, who was at Explore Export in Newmarket last week added: “Overall East of England exports to the Middle East are up by 11 per cent to £1.165 billion.

“British expertise is highly regarded and sought after by Qatar. There are opportunities for international support across all sectors, especially in infrastructure, health and education. Qatar’s economy is booming, with growth forecast at 6.8 per cent in 2014 and $220bn of investments planned to deliver the 2022 World Cup and its 2030 National Vision.”

Jordan is another market companies should target says Ra’eda Al-Ashhab, UKTI Trade Adviser based at the British Embassy in Amman 

“Jordan is an emerging market which is safe and stable. It is the gateway to doing business in Iraq and the region and there is a highly skilled workforce, making it possible to establish regional operations offices.  In addition, a British company can register in Jordan without any need for a local partner.”

UKTI staff, based in Embassies across the Middle East as well as in the UK, are well positioned to advise East of England companies on how to maximise their growth in this region, as a new Bedfordshire exporter discovered.

Within weeks of starting to work together, targeted support from UKTI East enabled Specialist Recruitment Partners (SRP) to land Middle East contracts worth £525,000.

Recruitment experts in the training, unemployment and welfare sectors, SRP hadn’t heard of UKTI East until November 2013, when a timely phone call from a member of UKTI’s sales team led to a meeting with international trade adviser Anton Rudgalvis.  

Hearing that SRP were keen to explore the potential market for their services in the Middle East, Rudgalvis persuaded the Embassy in Dubai to allow the company to make a post-closing date application to join an Education & Training Trade Mission to Qatar, Oman and Abu Dhabi last December. 

The trade mission offered UK companies an opportunity to profile their expertise to key decision-makers in the education and training sector. In each market delegates had the opportunity to hear from government and education representatives who were knowledgeable about the key issues and opportunities involved in exporting to the region; they were also able to hold individual meetings with local contacts, potential agents, distributors and customers.

As a result of contacts made on the mission, SRP secured a contract worth more than £500,000 across three years, to provide UK tutors and trainers for three Colleges of Excellence in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Government plans 100 such colleges for the region and UKTI Education has successfully enabled UK education providers to win more than £1 billion of contracts on this scheme to date, meaning that there is significant further potential for SRP in this region.  

“Our connection with UKTI came at just the right time,” said Kevin Dawson, managing director of SRP.  “We were already looking at potential export markets and had identified the Middle East as a target area for growth, but because Anton had lived and worked there for four years he was able to give us the cultural and business background that we needed to enter the market successfully.

“We weren’t planning to go out there until Anton made it clear that we had to go and engage in face-to-face conversations if we were serious about operating in this market; our potential clients needed to see that we were committed. He explained how personal contact was so important in building trust with companies throughout the Middle East.”

Dawson has since visited the region three times and has signed up for UKTI’s Passport to Export initiative, which enables first-time exporters to assess their export readiness, develop their market knowledge and produce a successful export plan.

“We simply wouldn’t have got this work without Anton and UKTI giving us the impetus to go. In fact, as a direct result of that first trade mission, which showed our existing partners that we were fully committed to trading in international markets, we have been offered additional work in Southern Ireland and South Africa.” 

Recognising that exporters need to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate well with key stakeholders overseas, UKTI runs regular business culture and language workshops for Arabic-speaking markets.  

Each day-long course helps exporters to navigate the deep cultural differences that determine negotiation and business styles, as well as teaching key phrases for verbal and email use.  

The structure of a typical course can be seen at: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ukti-east-business-culture-and-language-wo....

To register interest in the next workshop please call the UKTI East helpline or check the UKTI website regularly for future events. 

To find out more about UK Trade & Investment services in the East of England contact your local International Trade team:

 Tel: 01707 398398

Email: info [at] uktieast.org.uk

Website:  www.gov.uk/ukti

Follow us @UKTIEast


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