Red Leicester cheese, DNA fingerprinting and Thomas Cook package holidays - the best things to ever come out of Leicester, according to locals

  • Red Leicester cheese, DNA fingerprinting and Thomas Cook package holidays are the best things ever to come out of Leicester, according to locals
  • Santander UK research highlights importance of international trade to East Midlands companies – 39% currently trade internationally and 83% of these say it is critical to business
  • East Midlands companies reveal what it takes to make it overseas, including top tips for international success
  • Leicester-based Food Attraction shares its experience of taking its business international


Red Leicester cheese, DNA fingerprinting and Thomas Cook – and the invention of package holidays - have topped the list of the best things ever to come out of Leicester, according to local residents. 

In new research by Santander UK1, residents local to Leicester have named the top ten things to come out of the city as: 

  1. Red Leicester cheese 
  2. DNA fingerprinting 
  3. Thomas Cook – and the invention of package holidays 
  4. Gary Lineker 
  5. Stilton cheese 
  6. Blu Tack 
  7. Meccano 
  8. Kasabian 
  9. Blue Peter 
  10. Engelbert Humperdinck 

Many of these things have put Leicester on the global map, being well known, well used and much-loved in countries spanning the globe. Just as people from Leicester are proud of their city’s greatest exports, Brits throughout the UK are pleased with what the nation has given the world. Santander UK’s research2 has found that 82% of Brits think some of the best things in the world have originated in Britain.

As well as being a source of pride, British exports play a significant role in the day-to-day success of UK companies. Santander UK’s research3 shows that many businesses in Leicester and the wider East Midlands region see international trade as vital. In the East Midlands, 39% of companies surveyed currently trade internationally, and 83% of these said it was critical to their business. The most-cited countries they trade in are the USA (42%), France (29%) and Germany (26%). But international success doesn’t happen by chance. 

John Carroll, Head of International and Transactional Banking, Santander UK said: “A lot of research, hard work, perseverance, and adaptation go into transforming home-grown British goods and services into exports that resonate with consumers abroad and take off internationally. It also pays to have the right contacts in place - be they in-country retailers or distributors - to make sure UK-produced products and services have visibility overseas and get into the hands of buyers quickly and efficiently.”

The most common adaptations and measures East Midlands businesses have undertaken to ensure their success overseas are:

  • Marketed and advertised differently (34%).
  • Hired local staff (34%).
  • Adapted the product or service to suit the local market or to comply with in-country regulations (32%).
  • Changed the pricing structure (29%).
  • Increased their social media presence (24%).

It isn’t all plain sailing, as local businesses have worked hard to overcome the common challenges of: shipping and transport costs (37%); making changes to comply with different rules and regulations (32%); language barriers (29%); and extra costs (29%).

Of the East Midlands companies that don’t currently trade overseas, the reasons behind this are a belief that their business is too small (40%), they lack the necessary resources (12%), or their business is UK-centric (12%). Despite this, 32% of these businesses aspire to take their products and services overseas in future. However, only 8% have a plan in place to make this happen. They say help with marketing (18%), grants (18%) and less red tape (16%) would encourage them to take their business international.

A significant proportion of East Midlands companies are positive about trading abroad, with 54% agreeing ‘the future is bright for British business operating internationally’. Contributing to this optimism are their beliefs that consumers are supporting British businesses more (47%), the world is becoming easier to trade in and increasingly opening up business opportunities (44%) and Brexit has provided more opportunities (37%), 

Santander UK’s research has also revealed East Midlands business owners’ and decision makers’ top tips for international trade success:

  • Ensure your UK business is doing well first (35%). 
  • Adapt your product or service so it suits the local market and complies with in-country regulations (32%).
  • Make sure there is a market for your product or service before you start (29%).
  • Don’t take too big a risk to start with (23%).
  • Soft launch first to see how things go (19%).

Food Attraction, which sells authentic ‘on-the-go’ street food under the brand Jake and Nayns’, is an award-winning Leicester business that has successfully expanded overseas. Last year the family-owned and run company, based in Langham Road, Leicester, started its journey exporting to the US.

Jake and Nayns’ Managing Director, Jake Karia said: “It was our long-held dream to export overseas as part of our ambition to grow. Our bank, Santander UK, understood our international aspirations and connected us with a new big customer in America as well as providing us with a blueprint of how to overcome challenges and successfully get our products across the water into America. I encourage other British businesses to think seriously about expanding their business overseas but they need to do their homework first, researching and understanding the market and putting in place key connections to make it a success.”

John Carroll, Head of International and Transactional Banking, Santander UK added: “It’s clear from the research that international trade can play a crucial role in helping East Midlands businesses to emerge from the pandemic and get back to growth and with the right support and partners, these internationally trading businesses can thrive. Later this year, we will be launching a new online platform, where we will share our years of experience and knowledge in one place to help East Midlands businesses with tailored support to find their way when expanding overseas. We’re here to help these businesses with support that goes beyond banking as they navigate the challenges.”

Santander’s international team has dedicated market specialists that have access to extensive local networks and knowledge around the world, and a long track record of helping businesses implement their international growth strategies. This support ranges from working with them to identify new markets, helping them with shipping and logistics options, and organising virtual trade missions to introducing businesses to trusted local partners, potential new customers and vital networks in key destinations. For more information on the international support available, visit:


- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

For more information about the international support Santander UK provides British businesses please visit:

For Santander UK’s top tips for UK businesses looking to expand internationally, please visit:

For more information about Food Attraction’s Jake & Nayns’ brand, please visit:


Notes to Editors
1) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 100 people whose closest city is Leicester on 14-21 January 2022.
2) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK adults, nationally representative, on 14-20 January 2022.
3) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 1,000 UK business owners and decision makers on 14-25 January 2022.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2021, the bank had around 19,200 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of 2021, Banco Santander had €1.15 trillion in total funds, 153 million customers, of which 25.4 million are loyal and 47.4 million are digital, 9,900 branches and 197,000 employees.