Stainless steel, Sean Bean and snooker at The Crucible - the best things to ever come out of Sheffield, according to locals

  • Stainless steel, Sean Bean and snooker at the Crucible Theatre are the best things ever to come out of Sheffield, according to locals
  • Santander UK research highlights the importance of international trade to Yorkshire and the Humber companies – 42% currently trade internationally and 87% of these say it is critical to business
  • Yorkshire and the Humber companies reveal what it takes to make it overseas, including top tips for international success
  • Sheffield-based HD Sports shares its experience of trading internationally


Stainless steel, Sean Bean and snooker at the Crucible Theatre have topped the list of the best things ever to come out of Sheffield, according to local residents. 

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

  1. Stainless steel
  2. Sean Bean
  3. Snooker at the Crucible Theatre
  4. Michael Palin
  5. Football clubs 
  6. Jessica Ennis-Hill
  7. Def Leppard
  8. Henderson’s Relish
  9. The Arctic Monkeys
  10. Pulp.

Many in the top ten have put Sheffield on the global map, being well known, well used and much-loved in countries spanning the globe. Just as people from Sheffield 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 Sheffield and the wider Yorkshire and the Humber region see international trade as vital. In Yorkshire and the Humber, 42% of companies surveyed currently trade internationally, and 87% of these said it was critical to their business. The most-cited countries they trade in are France (44%), the USA (41%) and Australia (32%). 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 Yorkshire and the Humber businesses have undertaken to ensure their success overseas are:

  • Increased their social media presence (34%).
  • Worked with an in-country partner or distributor (29%).
  • Hired local staff (29%).
  • Introduced new products or services (24%).
  • Offered more products or services (24%).

It isn’t all plain sailing, as local businesses worked hard to overcome the common challenges of obtaining market intelligence on their sector (29%), extra costs (29%), and shipping and transport costs (24%).

Of the Yorkshire and the Humber companies that don’t currently trade overseas, the most common reasons behind this are the beliefs that their business is too small (39%) and that their products and services are unsuitable for an overseas market (19%). Despite this, 46% of these businesses aspire to take their products and services overseas in future. However, only 10% have a plan in place to make this happen. They say education to help understand the process (21%), grants (21%) and less red tape (21%) would encourage them to take their business international.

A significant number of Yorkshire and the Humber companies are positive about trading abroad, with 48% agreeing ‘the future is bright for British businesses operating internationally’. Contributing to this optimism is their belief that the world is becoming easier to trade in and increasingly opening up business opportunities (51%), freedom from EU regulation (46%) and the pandemic opening up more opportunities (40%).

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

  • Have a Plan B (40%).
  • Ensure your UK business is doing well first (37%).
  • Ensure there’s a market for your product or service before you start (33%).
  • Work with a local in-country supplier or distributor (27%).
  • Don’t take too big a risk to start with (27%).

HD Sports is an example of a Sheffield-based company that has successfully turned its hand to exporting abroad. Based in Rutland Way, HD Sports is a Santander UK client that has been making use of Sheffield’s top export, stainless steel, for centuries. The company’s John Wilson ice skate brand dates back to its namesake, royal toolmaker John Wilson, who was commissioned to make a pair of figure skating blades for King William III in 1696 using Sheffield steel. More than 300 years on, John Wilson skates are still manufactured in Sheffield and are the top choice of elite figure skating athletes, including Olympic and World champions throughout the world.

HD Sports CEO Tom Cantwell said: “Our inspiration to trade abroad stems from the fact that our products are needed all over the world - we’ve been trading internationally since the turn of the 20th Century. We’re constantly expanding our international presence, reaching out to nations that are building ice rinks to ensure our products are at the forefront of skaters’ minds. My advice for UK companies thinking about trading overseas is that if your business solves a problem, there’s always a place for it, no matter the nation. Current supply chains have been heavily disrupted so customers might be willing to pay more for a good product if you can reduce the time it takes to get it to their consumers. An emphasis on availability and delivery has become paramount.” 

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 Yorkshire and the Humber 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 Yorkshire and the Humber 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:

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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 HD Sports and John Wilson skates please visit:


Notes to Editors
1) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 100 people whose closest city is Sheffield 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.