The television, flushing toilets, and the refrigerator - the best things to ever come out of Scotland, according to locals

  • The television, flushing toilets, and the refrigerator are the best things ever to come out of Scotland, according to locals

  • Santander UK research highlights importance of international trade to Scottish companies – 48% currently trade internationally and 92% of these say it is critical to business

  • Scottish companies reveal what it takes to make it overseas, including top tips for international success

  • Scotland-based Snag Group shares its experience of taking its business international


The television, flushing toilets, and the refrigerator have topped the list of the best things ever to come out of Scotland, according to local residents. 

In new research by Santander UK1, Scotland’s residents have named the top ten things to come out of the country as: 
1.    The television 
2.    Flushing toilets
3.    The refrigerator 
4.    Tyres 
5.    Sean Connery 
6.    Golf 
7.    The toaster 
8.    Encyclopedia Britannica 
9.    The first cloned sheep (Dolly) 
10.  Deep-fried Mars Bars 

Many of these things have put Scotland on the global map, being well known, well used and much-loved in countries spanning the globe. Just as people from Scotland are proud of their country’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 Scotland see international trade as vital. In Scotland, 48% of companies surveyed currently trade internationally, and 92% of these said it was critical to their business. The most-cited countries they trade in are France (52%), Germany (52%), Australia (41%) and Canada (41%). 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 Scottish businesses have undertaken to ensure their success overseas are:
•    Changed the pricing structure (41%).
•    Increased their social media presence (37%).
•    Introduced new products or services (37%).
•    Adapted the product or service to suit the local market (33%).
•    Marketed and advertised it differently (33%).

It isn’t all plain sailing, as local businesses have worked hard to overcome the common challenges of understanding the different rules and regulations (41%), extra costs (30%), and understanding the tax implications (30%).

Of the Scottish companies that don’t currently trade overseas, the reasons behind this are the belief that their business is too small (43%) and their product or service is unsuitable for an overseas market (26%). Despite this, 27% of these businesses aspire to take their products and services overseas in future. However, only 12% have a plan in place to make this happen. They say grants (23%) and less red tape (19%) would encourage them to take their business international.

Overwhelmingly, Scottish companies are positive about trading abroad, with 64% agreeing ‘the future is bright for British business operating internationally’. Contributing to this optimism are their beliefs that the pandemic has opened up more opportunities (56%), consumers are supporting British businesses more (53%), the world is becoming easier to trade in and increasingly opening up business opportunities (34%) and freedom from EU regulation (34%).

Santander UK’s research has also revealed Scottish business owners’ and decision makers’ top tips for international trade success:
•    Invest in obtaining market intelligence on your sector in the country you want to trade in (38%).
•    Make sure there is a market for your product or service before you start (29%).
•    Ensure your UK business is doing well first (29%).
•    Don’t take too big a risk to start with (29%).

Inclusive clothing e-retailer Snag Group is a Scotland-headquartered company for which overseas trade is crucial. Now in its fifth year of trading, international sales represent 50% of all sales for the business, which sells recyclable hosiery and clothing for people of all sizes direct through its websites. With customers in 90 countries, Snag Group plans to expand sales further in the US, and key to this has been the acquisition - with support from Santander UK - of a new warehouse in Livingston, which significantly increases its capacity to store, process and package stock.

Snag Group Founder and CEO Brie Read said: “We began selling our products internationally through our website soon after we began operating and three years in, over half of our sales were overseas. With Brexit looming and the uncertainty that came with it, we decided to establish a warehouse in the Netherlands to ensure we could get our products to international customers quickly and efficiently. Localisation has been imperative to our international growth. Other measures crucial to success are offering payment service providers that are trusted within each different country and giving our customers the full Snag experience, from localised websites and communications to having native speakers available within our customer service teams. Having our website available in native languages has increased our conversion rate within Europe alone from 4% to 8%. My advice to UK companies considering taking their business international is that it may seem like a mammoth task but there’s so much fantastic help available to support you. Lots of research and an ‘all-hands-on deck’ approach are necessary, but it’s well worth knowing that your customers are benefiting like our Snagglers!”

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 Scottish 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 Scottish 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 more information about Snag Group, please visit:

Notes to Editors
1) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 500 people living in Scotland 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.