Scotland is outperforming much of the rest of Great Britain (GB) when it comes to exporting: the number of Scottish businesses that export goods and/or services internationally grew by 17% across the three-year period between 2012 and 2014 to 11,100 firms, according to analysis by Santander Corporate & Commercial of the most recent goods and services regional export data from the Office of National Statistics1.

Looking at goods and services separately, Scotland showed the most significant increase of any GB region in the number of firms that export goods, up 14% to 5,700 businesses. This compares to a 5% fall for GB as a whole; indeed, Scotland was one of only five GB regions that showed an increase in firms that export goods. There was a 29% rise in the number of Scottish firms that export services, compared to a 16% average for GB as a whole.

Overall, the number of GB businesses that export goods and/ or services rose by 5% over the three-year period to 221,300 firms in total.

Graham Silcock, Regional Director for Scotland at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “It is great to see strong growth in the number of Scottish firms that export. We are seeing a number of reasons for this; for instance, a lot of Scottish firms are prioritising exporting internationally before expanding in the UK. Secondly, the ‘Made in Scotland’ brand is being increasingly well-received abroad across a range of industries: from food and drink to electronics, computer games and manufacturing. Thirdly, we have noticed that a number of larger Scottish businesses that already successfully export are taking a paternal interest in smaller Scottish firms and are tangibly helping them to export and trade internationally.”

How Scotland compares to the rest of Great Britain (ranked by three-year overall growth)
 Number of firms that export goods and/ or services, 2014Growth in number of firms that export good and/ or services,
% change 2012-2014 
Growth in number of firms that export just goods,
% change 2012-2014
Yorkshire/ Humber13,90021%9%
East Midlands14,90012%9%
North West17,10011%11%
Great Britain221,3005%-5%
England (overall)205,3004%-6%
South West18,9003%-5%
South East40,7003%-18%
East of England24,200-4%-4%
West Midlands15,600-5%-17%
North East3,500-8%-21%
 Source: Santander analysis of ONS data1

Santander Corporate & Commercial saw a 13% increase in new lending facilities to Scottish businesses in 2015 compared to 2014. On 4 February, Santander became the 200th employer to commit to the Scottish Business Pledge, which mandates firms and businesses take a best-practice approach to their staff, salaries and responsibilities. The bank is also fully supporting UKTI’s 2016 ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign, which is visiting Scotland this week.

Kevin Boyd, Divisional Managing Director at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “It is vital that firms focus on international trade as a primary driver of growth. 2016 is a key year for businesses and exporting: trading internationally has become even more important to the national business narrative, as evidenced by the Government’s target to grow total UK exports to £1 trillion by 20202.

“It is clear that there are significant opportunities globally for Scottish businesses across a range of markets. Santander is passionate about helping businesses make the most of the incredible benefits that exporting can bring. The Santander Group has one of the most extensive international networks and offers an unparalleled range of products and services to help firms realise their global aspirations.”

Neil Francis, director of international operations at Scottish Development International (SDI) said: “The results of this latest survey are very encouraging and reinforce the message that there’s a strong demand in the global marketplace for Scotland’s goods and services. We’ll be continuing to work closely with companies across Scotland to help identify international export opportunities in both new and traditional markets, to further build on this success.”

Santander Corporate & Commercial offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to help Scottish businesses and SMEs to export and find international trading partners and suppliers. This includes the award-winning Santander Trade Portal – a unique online tool for businesses that can identify where the best importing and exporting opportunities are for their particular products and services.

In addition, Santander Group operates a dedicated International Desk Network, which covers Santander’s 14 core markets, to support businesses that are ready to enter new markets. Santander Corporate & Commercial also offers businesses the opportunity to go on Trade Missions to key markets as part of its suite of products and services. In 2015, Santander ran Trade Missions to Spain, Poland, Mexico, the US and the United Arab Emirates, and is already planning further ones to China and Mexico in 2016. In 2015 we saw a significant rise in the number of Scottish SMEs attending the Trade Missions highlighting the increasing appetite to export.

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Notes to editors

1 ONS. Regional figures may not sum to total GB figure, due to ONS methodology


Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its 1|2|3 products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. As at 31 December 2015, Santander UK was one of the most switched to banks. The bank serves more than 14 million active customers with c. 20,000 employees and operates through 857 branches and 70 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

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