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Why this Cumbrian businesses has a hop, skip and jump in its step

Barry Leahey

A Cumbrian business represented the Northern Powerhouse on a global stage at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, an event that brings together the heads of government from all Commonwealth countries, and the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty The Queen.

Playdale, a manufacturer and supplier of children’s playground equipment, started exporting in 2009, with the help of the Department for International Trade (DIT). The business now exports to 49 countries through 38 distributors, including five in the Commonwealth, and its export sales have topped £2,000,000, accounting for 20% of turnover. Playdale’s Managing Director, Barry Leahey, spoke at CHOGM in his capacity as Export Champion, encouraging SMEs to take advantage of exporting to the Commonwealth. He represents the region by encouraging other businesses across the North West to explore overseas opportunities.

Playdale recently secured an £80,000 deal to provide equipment for a school in Singapore and has done a deal worth more than £700,000 with a playground distributor in Brisbane, Australia.

Barry Leahey

Barry Leahey of Playdale said: “Exporting has completely changed our business and without it, I know we wouldn’t have reached the level of success we are experiencing. I think exporting can seem like a daunting process to some businesses, but I find the rewards far outweigh the risks.

“The Commonwealth is a great place to start as some of these countries have very similar trading conditions to the UK, making it easier to distribute goods. Negotiating contracts is also very straightforward as Commonwealth countries often have a similar legal system to the UK which makes it easier to complete transactions.

“However, it can often be difficult knowing where to start once you’ve decided exporting is for you. That’s why we continue to work closely with our local DIT International Trade Adviser. Once we decided on our approach to the Commonwealth, DIT set up meetings for us in the countries we felt had the most potential, linking us to buyers specifically interested in playground equipment.

“The help we have received from DIT has been invaluable. I don’t think SMEs quite realise the benefits of exporting. If a small business from Cumbria can export to the other side of the world, anyone can.”

Paul Stowers, Head of Regions, North West for the Department for International Trade, said: “There is a huge demand for UK goods and services across the Commonwealth, which has been a particularly long-standing key export market for North West. In 2016, exports to Commonwealth countries including Canada, Singapore, India and Australia had a combined value of £1.462bn.

“The benefits of shared values and languages also make the Commonwealth natural exporting partners. Our team International Trade Advisers is committed to working across the Commonwealth to help North West businesses make the most of the relationships we already enjoy and continually promote greater intra-Commonwealth trade.

“If any other businesses in the region want to explore the idea of exporting, to a Commonwealth country or beyond, I’d encourage them to get in touch with us now and find out how we can help.”

Companies can find information and a current list of opportunities through visiting or by contacting:

DIT North West

E:  [email protected]

T: 0333 320 0392

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