Sales of British Christmas trees abroad up by over 100%, UKTI reports

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UK businesses are jingling all the way after helping to spread Christmas cheer across the world.

Christmas trees grown in the UK are sold nearly exclusively in the UK, but growers are increasingly bucking the trend. Taking on their European rivals, during the festive season last year they saw an increase in sales overseas of 111% for October to December 2013 compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile children across the world continue to write to Father Christmas asking for British toys, with UK toy manufacturers reporting a 25% increase in exports for October to December 2013. This is an increase of over £25m compared to the same period in 2012 and, with a 17% increase in unit toy sales for 2014 so far, is set to grow further still this year.

In 2013/14 UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy, assisted businesses generate £49.1bn to the UK economy in additional overseas sales, which created or safeguarded 220,440 jobs.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said: “From toys to trees to all the Christmas trimmings, the UK has proved time and again that we produce the items of choice for people celebrating the festive season across the globe.

“It’s particularly good to see British firms branching out into new markets, selling Christmas trees in Russia, chestnuts to Spain and toys to Angola.

“Looking ahead to 2015, we want to help British businesses not just sell abroad, but thrive there. UK Trade & Investment stands ready to help and this year supported almost 48,000 companies do just that. Any company wanting to know more should get in touch.”

According to retail sales data from market researchers The NPD Group, revenue from sales of toys since January has increased by 6% compared to the same time period last year – the best sales result since 2010.

British company WOW Toys has seen a 26% rise in their exporting activity since January this year and are helping to fuel a boom in the UK industry. WOW, who specialises in innovative and high quality toys for toddlers, now exports to as diverse places as Japan, Angola, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and are expanding further still with the help of UKTI.

Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, company founder, said: “Over 48% of our business is exporting overseas and this year has been a really good year. Our products are niche, unique and high quality, which I think creates a particular selling-point for us to sell in more unusual as well as well-established countries.

“UKTI have been invaluable in helping us achieve our export goals and this year we exhibited at a trade show in Mumbai, India, with their help, to break into this new market.”

Jadecliff, based in Newbury, is a Christmas tree company that is benefiting from the increased demand for British Christmas trees abroad. The company, which this year provided the tree for outside No. 11 Downing Street, is exporting overseas for the first time – with Holland as their first target market.

Sadie Lynes, managing director of the company, said: “We have grown the business a lot in the UK, so exporting really was the logical next step for us in order to further expand the business. We visited Holland last year to make preparations and I have over 25 years’ experience in the business which has really helped.

“I would definitely recommend exporting to companies looking to expand as we are starting to see the benefits already and are planning to try new markets in Europe next year.”

It has also been a stellar year for British chestnut suppliers, who saw exports jump by a massive 352% for the festive season in 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This was mainly due to soaring demand in Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands. And, as temperatures dropped during the winter months, there was a rise in demand for UK-made coats by 43%, particularly in Germany.

The top five biggest selling UK exports over the last Christmas period were whiskies, beer, chocolate, toys and cheese. Sales figures for last year were £1.2bn for whiskies, £161m for beer, £160m for chocolate, £128m for toys and £124m for cheese.

In this year’s Autumn Statement, the Government announced £20m to support first-time exporters, and UKTI’s expert international trade advisors can help new exporters with practical advice and support to seek out new international customers.