Manchester lighting business switches on to exporting success

The business began working with International Trade Advisers from the Department for International Trade (DIT) in 2015 to develop and implement an exporting strategy to grow the business by selling to customers in overseas target markets.

Metcraft Lighting now exports to Lithuania, St Lucia and Australia, with 3% of its current annual turnover a direct result of exporting.

In the UK, the company has worked on a vast range of projects, including major schemes of both national and historical importance. In 2008, it restored the lighting on Westminster Bridge, improving its reliability whilst ensuring its preservation.

Shane Lightfoot, Sales and Operations Manager at Metcraft Lighting, said: “The business was very niche when it was founded in the early 80s but now the marketplace has become very competitive. Although we were nervous about exporting, we decided to reach out to our local trade adviser at DIT to see if we could find new markets for our products.

“To start with, we attended a number of DIT-led workshops which helped us understand the ins and outs of what we were getting involved with. From there, they provided advice helping us discover suitable overseas markets for our products where there are more opportunities for growth. This led to us securing deals with a shopping mall in Lithuania, a government building in St Lucia and a private client in Melbourne.

“Thanks to DIT’s guidance, we were able to navigate our way around initial challenges such as export payments and taxation, and ensured we always had the correct documentation in place. This made the entire process much easier and has allowed us to grow our business overseas.

“Exporting is easier than you think. If other companies like us across the North West are looking to grow and stay ahead in the market, they should get in touch with DIT and find out how they can get the tools needed for a successful start to exporting. If we can export our products from Manchester to Melbourne, others can too.”

As part of its Exporting is GREAT campaign, DIT is currently showcasing 30+ UK businesses - from a range of sectors and regions - to inspire and support firms up and down the country to export.

Paul Stowers, Head of UK Regions for North West at the Department of International Trade, said:“Metcraft Lighting is a great example of a North West business that, after initial caution, is experiencing outstanding success through exporting. The business worked to create a strategy that would allow them to grow overseas while the market in the UK was becoming increasingly competitive.

“Despite challenges, our team of International Trade Advisers worked with the business to find solutions, enabling Metcraft Lighting to succeed.

“DIT is on hand to help businesses across the region step on the exporting ladder, or reach entirely new markets. I’d urge anyone wanting to take advantage of the hundreds of exporting opportunities, to get in touch and see how we can help.”