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Whilst writing and researching a presentation, I looked at "The Commonwealth" to remind myself of what we are privileged to be a member of. 52 countries (Togo have also applied) and over 2 billion citizens. Wow, that's quite a club! And another reason to think that if handled correctly, "Brexit" could indeed open up a host of new trade opportunities with other member states. It's taken this Referendum decision for me to appreciate exactly how important the Commonwealth is in the world today. 52 countries, as a matter of interest how many can you name?   March 18th 2017




1st March, St David's Day here in beautiful North Wales, officially start of meteorological  Spring and, hopefully the start of the month when TM triggers Article 50. I'm hearing the "Lords" are planning their usual disruption at some point ( that's where I got the inspiration for the title of this short missive), but they can't stop the inevitable. As a "remainer" I made a decision on June 24th, not to become a "remoaner"- the decision is made so let's get on with it.

Interestingly, at a meeting yesterday, all of my International Trade colleagues ( both from Wales and England) shared the same view as I do. That is to say that even though it's surely not going to be easy, the actual triggering of the negotiations must start to lift some of the uncertainty?

I mentioned earlier that in a recent trip to Germany, a lot of our European neighbours still can't believe we voted to leave their club. This month should finally extinguish any doubts.   March 1st 2017

                                                                                                    ***************   Feb 18th 2017

I have always advocated my clients visiting a market before before deciding whether it is the right place for their product or service. When overseas at trade shows, I always put aside time to see what's selling in the high street. Organizing the show and manning the exhibition stand doesn't always allow for me to do this, however my recent trip to Frankfurt gave me the chance to " do as I do-not just as I say!"

And I'm pleased that I did, because there were a number of changes in the stores since my last visit. Like my native city of Birmingham there is a lot of construction going on in the city centre.

 I have always got a buzz from supplying into the quality store groups overseas, and Germany in particular. I've always seen it as a confirmation that my products (and service) are of the highest quality. I have published below some photos of the stores in Frankfurt, many of which I have been lucky enough to sell into, particularly Karstadt and Douglas Parfumerie.

 It was a valuable lesson to remind myself of- some of the exhibitors I spoke to literally fly in, do the show and fly out again. All they see is the inside of the exhibition centre. I must confess I have done it myself many times, due mainly to time constraints, but in recent years I have made a conscious decision to get out into the market whilst overseas.

In other words - "I do as I do- not just as I say......"



Consider the following statement:-

" The United States is turning in on itself and will be more isolationist in the future, Great Britain continues to pursue it's global outlook. France,Great Britain's traditional foe remains suspicious of their aims. Europe is in a state of unrest. Iraq and Syria are unstable. The Israel - Palestine two state issue is being debated through the United Nations. Russia and Turkey are pursuing their own expansionist policies"

You may think this is a reflection on the current situation in certain parts of the world. It is, in fact, my own personal summary of an excellent book I have just finished reading :-

" Empire of Sand- How Britain Made the Middle East"  Written by Walter Reid

I was intrigued by the somewhat presumptive title. It recounts the world situation at the end of the 19th century through to the early-mid 20th century. It illustrates how the old saying " what goes around comes around" is actually quite apt.

We hear a lot about business cycles, but I learned a long time ago as an international trade specialist, that geo-political aspects need to be taken into consideration when looking at where to trade overseas. Just another aspect of being an exporter and making the right choices. 

I am an avid reader of historical books and it is quite amazing what we can learn from the past, to help us plan for the future. Jan 27 2017


Apparently, over the weekend it became known that the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has hinted at a deal for the City ? 

At a private meeting ( really- is anything private these days?) he told MEP's that their must be a 'special relationship' for financial services.This,in order to avoid financial instability. There are concerns that European firms would suffer badly if they were unable to access the City of London which is the Continent's key source of finance.

And so it begins.It's part of the positioning and point scoring which will no doubt go on for some time. Maybe the Government announcement this week on actual Brexit strategy will give more clarity, but it's clear that there will be a lot of industries out to protect their own status quo as much as possible.

Meanwhile, we business people involved in International Trade will have to work in and around the political angle for the short to medium term future.

Maybe now that the pound is so competitive against the US dollar and Euro, we can get more people exporting? Jan 16  2017


I want to be in a "thank-tank" - or do I ? Am I already in one? If not - why not?

We can't switch on a television, radio, view Social Media or open a newspaper without the latest (mostly) doom-ridden forecasts from numerous "Think-tanks".  Sadly, many people I know in business now have total disregard for forecasters after the EU Referendum and US Presidential Elections results. And don't talk to me about "pollsters".

After working in International trade for over 25 years now, I have a pretty good idea of whom I can trust. And yes, some of them are official bodies such as the Chambers of Commerce, I.O.E and (hopefully) DIT when it's up and running properly.  But mostly, I listen to people who are, or have been,actively working in overseas trade. Talking to and listening to the people who are actually doing the work. People who have their finger on the pulse.

And you know what? A lot of the small businesses I support actually do have a positive view on the future for their businesses.

If I could give one piece of advice to politicians ( and I'm sure they're reading this !) then it would be to be careful what you say. Currencies and the Stock Market seem to be pretty jumpy these days and it only takes a word out of place to cause panic.

So anyway, please let me know - what does a "think-tank" really do? And do I really want to be in one ? 12 Jan 2017


Time to get the Passport out again….

My travel itinerary for 2017 reflects my thoughts on the effects of a couple of hugely important decisions taken last year, namely “Brexit” and the US Presidential Election.

Normally, in January I have exhibited at the MRket men’s fashion show in New York  with various companies, latterly from North Wales. This year I am making a change and visiting Ambiente in Frankfurt early in February. My reasoning is simple – we can’t afford to ignore Europe and we need to see which direction America takes post Trump. And, of course, I was snowed in in New York last year so that’s always a consideration!

 I am also looking to focus more on the giftware market as well as men’s fashion accessories and ladies jewellery this year, and Ambiente is a great place to start. It’s the pre-eminent giftware show in Europe and attracts visitors from around the world. I have exhibited there more than twenty times previously, so I am looking forward to a positive visit this time.

Will let you know how I get on and see how the Europeans are viewing the Referendum result first hand at the same time   


I was so looking forward to 2016 -The Euros,Olympics, Paralympics, the EU Referendum and the US Presidential Election. Well, I enjoyed the two lots of Olympics, but none of the rest went the way I expected!

So now we have it - the results of both the European referendum and the US Elections worked out differently to how a lot of people expected. Me included, but it is what it is and we need to work with what we have got.

As an International Trade Adviser to UK companies, both of these decisions have caused me concern for different reasons, but mainly because we don't know exactly what we have got from either. How will the UK work with Europe and how will America work with the rest of the world?

Truth is - no-one knows at this point and we won't have a clear idea for some time yet.

So, the key thing is not to fall into the trap of shying away from International Trade- quite the opposite is in fact the case. We all need to be looking how we can grow our exports rather than sit on the fence and wait and see what happens. Here in the UK that means increasing trade with the rest of the world and yes- also with Europe.

The important thing as far as we as business people are concerned, is to look beyond the news headlines and work with what we know to be true at this moment in time. Then we need to make some educated "guesses" at what is likely to happen. That's the scary part!

So my message to all of my UK friends and colleagues for 2017, is to go back to your export plan - review and revise it to fit the new circumstances. Armed with a new plan, it's time to get exporting and I will see if I can give you some pointers along the way.............