Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland show largest growth in number of firms that export

The number of businesses in Wales that export goods and/or services internationally grew by 32% across the three-year period between 2012 and 2014 to 4,900 firms, according to analysis by Santander Corporate & Commercial of the most recent goods and services regional export data from the Office of National Statistics1.

This was the largest growth across any region in Great Britain (GB), and compares with 21% growth in Yorkshire & Humberside (to 13,900 businesses), 17% growth in Scotland (11,100), 12% in the East Midlands (14,900) and 11% in the North West (17,100). The North East showed the largest decline, down 8% to 3,500 businesses.

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. As at the end of 2014, a quarter (25%) of all firms that export goods and/or services were in London (56,400), with a further 19% (40,700) in the South East, and 12% in the East of England (24,200).

Wales also topped the regional chart in terms of the number of firms that just export services: over the three-year period, this was up 87% to 2,800 businesses. The number of firms in Wales that export just goods was up 4%, to 2,800 – the fourth-largest increase overall among regions. This is primarily due to the assistance and active encouragement that the Welsh government has provided to businesses that wish to export beyond the UK. There is also a focus on rebalancing the Welsh economy to provide strong, sustainable growth balanced between sectors.

Scotland showed the most significant increase in firms that export goods, up 14% to 5,700 businesses. There are 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, there are a number of larger Scottish businesses that already successfully export and are taking a paternal interest in smaller Scottish firms tangibly helping them to export and trade internationally.

Numbers of firms in Great Britain that export goods and/or services, ranked by three-year regional growth
RegionNumber of exportersGrowth in number of exporters,
% change 2012-2014
Wales 3,700 4,200 4,900 32%
Yorkshire and The Humber 11,500 12,400 13,900 21%
Scotland 9,500 10,800 11,100 17%

East Midlands

 13,300 16,000 14,900 12%
North West 15,400 18,500 17,100 11%
London 53,600 58,300 56,400 5%
Great Britain 210,200 228,900 221,300 5%
England (overall) 197,000 213,900 205,300 4%
South West 18,300 20,100 18,900 3%
South East 39,600 42,500 40,700 3%
East of England 25,100 23,100 24,200 -4%
West Midlands 16,500 18,600 15,600 -5%
North East 3,800 4,300 3,500 -8%
     Source: Santander analysis of ONS data1


The analysis by Santander Corporate & Commercial showed a strong trend in the number of British firms that are exporting services compared to goods. The number of firms that export just services in Great Britain was up 16% to 143,700 firms overall, as at the end of 2014, while the number of firms that export goods was down 5% to 106,200.

John Carroll, Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: "Our analysis shows some strong growth in the number of British firms that export, particularly with regards to the services sector. However, it is vital that more firms focus on international trade as a primary driver of growth. 2016 is a key year for British businesses and exporting: trading internationally has become even more important to the national business narrative, as evidenced by the Government’s target to grow UK exports to £1 trillion by 20202.

"It is clear that there are significant opportunities globally for UK businesses across a range of markets. Santander is seeing strong demand among its clients for information and support, and 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."

Santander Corporate & Commercial offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to help UK 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 UK businesses that are ready to enter new markets. Santander Corporate & Commercial also offers UK businesses the opportunity to go on Trade Missions to key markets as part of its Breakthrough product suite. 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 in 2016.

Santander is also partnering with Exporting is GREAT, the government-led initiative to inspire and support more UK businesses to sell their goods and services overseas. It provides advice and support at every stage of their exporting journey at

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Notes to editors

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


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