UK exports up 7.4%, and so are translations!

Statistics released by the ONS last month show that UK exports rose 7.4% (£43.3 billion) to £625.4 billion to the end of April 2018 compared to the same time last year. It would appear that UK businesses – regardless of any uncertainties around Brexit – continue to press ahead with their global export strategies.

The figures from the ONS also show that exports continue to grow faster than imports for the tenth month continuously: with the overall trade deficit down from £37.5 billion to £30.8 billion.

Here at Comtec demand for our translations services are closely linked to national export trends and we’ve also seen an encouraging 52% year-on-year increase in the work undertaken for UK manufacturing clients. It is very exciting to see such positive performance across the sector and export market as a whole.

Clients like Tru Tension, a Bristol based manufacturer of tools and care products for the motorcycle industry, are reaping the reward of its aggressive export drive. International sales now represent 50% of Tru Tension’s business, and the company has plans to launch in a further 10 international markets by 2020, maximising the year-on-year global increase in motorcycle sales.

To date we’ve helped Tru Tension secure substantial new overseas distributors in Germany and France, translating everything from website content to brochures, product guides and even social media posts. Demonstrating an understanding of both language and culture in the countries the company has targeted is an important part of establishing new export markets.

Similarly we’re also supporting the launch of new products for clients like Domino Printing Sciences Group. Last year Comtec translated and fully localised product brochures, web content and supporting marketing collateral for the new Ax-Series: Domino’s next generation of ink drop technology. Domino is a manufacturer based in Cambridge that currently exports to 120 countries worldwide.

Brexit uncertainty not dampening exports

While companies that export to EU countries are watching Brexit developments closely, many of our clients are not waiting for a final trade deal to put their export strategies into action.

Clients like Tool Connections is determined to maintain its growth, citing its commitment to develop new products as the key to its continued success. They launch approximately 40 new products across their portfolio of brands every month, and require marketing and technical translations in over 10 different languages. As well as translating content we also provide desktop publishing services to ensure a fast turnaround of artwork for each market.

How languages support export success

According to a report for UK Trade & Investment, deficient language skills and the presumption that international business partners will speak English is costing the UK economy about 3.5% of GDP. There are concerns that unless organisations take action now, the UK’s already limited language capability (only 1 in 3 Brits say they can hold a conversation in another language) could be further eroded by increased difficulties in recruiting native-speaking linguists from abroad once we leave the EU.

Research shows that organisations that have made the conscious decision to invest in professional language services achieve a far higher export to turnover ratio. So there’s no time like the present to increase your business’ language capabilities.

My advice is to do the following:

  • Identify the languages that are most important for your business to succeed in a global marketplace (the British Council’s Languages for the Future report is a useful starting point),
  • Audit your in-house language capabilities; do you have native-speaking employees here in the UK or in relevant markets that can support your export strategies? Do they have the skills and time needed to translate and localise content for different markets?
  • Consider offering language learning opportunities to employees to increase your in-house capabilities. Employees with some language skills can help with translating and replying to emails, taking phone calls and interpreting at meetings, as well as supporting your marketing department by translating social media comments etc.
  • Align recruitment strategies with your language needs. Would it be beneficial to recruit candidates with basic skills in your target languages?
  • Partner with a translation service provider with specialist expertise. If you haven’t established a relationship with a translation service provider look for one that has expertise in your sector and the regions you’re focused on, shares your company values and understands your business’ global objectives.

For further insights and support our translation guide – Languages in International Business – will help you start building your company’s language capacity and reach a global audience. Download your free copy here.

If you would like to explore working with Comtec and have a chat about your language requirements, please get in touch. Call +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

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