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Concorde, Banksy and hot air balloons - the best things ever to come out of Bristol, according to Santander research

The Business Magazine article image for: Concorde, Banksy and hot air balloons - the best things ever to come out of Bristol, according to Santander research
2 March 2022

Concorde, Banksy and hot air balloons have topped the list of the best things ever to come out of Bristol, according to local residents.

In new research by Santander UK about international trade, residents local to Bristol have named the top ten things to come out of the city as:

  1. Concorde
  2. Banksy
  3. Hot air balloons
  4. Chocolate bars
  5. Cary Grant
  6. Russell Howard
  7. Stephen Merchant
  8. Ribena
  9. Massive Attack
  10. David Prowse (who played Darth Vader)

Just as people from Bristol are proud of their city’s greatest exports, Brits throughout the UK are pleased with what the nation has given the world. Santander UK’s research has found that 82 per cent of Brits think some of the best things in the world have originated in Britain.

As well as being a source of pride, British exports play a significant role in the day-to-day success of UK companies. Santander UK’s research shows that many businesses in Bristol and the wider South West see international trade as vital.

In the South West, 40 per cent of companies surveyed currently trade internationally, and 82 per cent of these said it was critical to their business.

The most-cited countries they trade in are the USA (55 per cent), Germany (52 per cent) and France (50 per cent). But international success doesn’t happen by chance.

John Carroll, head of international and transactional banking at Santander UK said: “A lot of research, hard work, perseverance, and adaptation go into transforming home-grown British goods and services into exports that resonate with consumers abroad and take off internationally.

"It also pays to have the right contacts in place - be they in-country retailers or distributors - to make sure UK-produced products and services have visibility overseas and get into the hands of buyers quickly and efficiently.”

The most common adaptations and measures South West businesses have undertaken to ensure their success overseas are:

  • Increased their social media presence (38 per cent)
  • Changed the pricing structure (38 per cent)
  • Hired local staff (36 per cent)
  • Introduced new products or services (36 per cent)

It isn’t all plain sailing, as local businesses have worked hard to overcome the common challenges of shipping and transport costs (45 per cent), understanding the different rules and regulations (40 per cent), and language barriers (40 per cent).

Of the South West companies that don’t currently trade overseas, the reasons behind this are the beliefs that: their business is too small (42 per cent); there won’t be demand overseas 26 per cent; and their product or service is unsuitable for an overseas market (24 per cent).

Despite this, 29 per cent of these businesses aspire to take their products and services overseas in future. However, only two per cent have a plan in place to make this happen.

They say less red tape (25 per cent), education to understand the rules and regulations (23 per cent), tax breaks (19 per cent) and market intelligence on their sector in various countries (19 per cent) would encourage them to take their business international.

A significant proportion of South West companies are positive about trading abroad, with 57 per cent agreeing ‘the future is bright for British business operating internationally’.

Contributing to this optimism are their beliefs that: there is now freedom from EU regulation (61 per cent); the world is becoming easier to trade in and increasingly opening up business opportunities (43 per cent); and the pandemic has opened up more opportunities (33 per cent).

Santander UK’s research has also revealed South West business owners’ and decision makers’ top tips for international trade success:

  • Make sure there is a market for your product or service before you start (38 per cent)
  • Ensure your UK business is doing well first (31 per cent)
  • Have a Plan B (31 per cent)
  • Get professional assistance to navigate the local market regulations and bureaucracy (25 per cent)

World-leading manufacturer of contamination control flooring and non-slip products for assisted living, Dycem, is a Bristol-based company that has been exporting for more than 30 years, continually expanding its international reach.

While the Santander UK client’s headquarters and production facility are in Bristol, it has sales offices and distribution hubs in the US, Philippines and Europe.

Dycem’s chief financial Officer, Monica Briand, said: “Dycem’s first steps into overseas trade started out with us exporting from the UK into new global markets and building key distribution partnerships overseas.

"Our approach has evolved over the years to now combine exporting from Bristol with having direct sales teams and distribution partners in key international markets.

"Recently, we’ve grown by investing in our employees and facilities in the US and Europe – having a dedicated sales team solely focused on our products with a deep understanding of their local market and language has been key.

"My advice to UK companies considering taking their business international is to try not to do too much from the outset. Firstly, identify your key overseas market and focus on it, reach out to logistics providers, financial advisers and your bank to get their help, and speak to businesses that are already exporting.

"Once you’ve taken the first step successfully, you can replicate and extend to other geographies.”

John Carroll added: “It’s clear from the research that international trade can play a crucial role in helping South West businesses to emerge from the pandemic and get back to growth and with the right support and partners, these internationally trading businesses can thrive.

“Later this year, we will be launching a new online platform where we will share our years of experience and knowledge in one place to help South West businesses with tailored support to find their way when expanding overseas. We’re here to help these businesses with support that goes beyond banking as they navigate the challenges.”


Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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