Berlin Familiarisation Mission Hailed a Success!

A successful trade mission to Berlin led by the Wakefield Business Support Programme with support from UK Trade & Industry (UKTI) helped to build contacts between local businesses and European enterprises forging valuable links between the district and export markets.  Delegates from seven local businesses attended the familiarisation mission to learn in detail how the German market works.

In Berlin delegates were met by Kerstin Rath, the Senior Trade Advisor, based at the UK embassy for UKTI.  The Embassy planned a packed Tuesday, hearing from Thomas Einsfelder, Head of the EU Department and International Affairs about the importance and advantages of Berlin as a place of business.  Delegates then managed to fit in a Q&A with a member of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.

This was followed by a panel discussion, ‘Doing Business in Germany’ where delegates were joined by Senior Trade Advisers from fields including, Energy, Defence, Construction, the Creative Industries and Consumer Goods. 

After a presentation by Plümer Communication and a further Q&A with Harald Kötter from PR & Marketing at AUMA on the importance of exhibiting, delegates were given a comprehensive introduction to the German corporate taxation system, enabling businesses to trade with confidence.

The Wednesday morning ensured delegates remained busy as they learnt about the cultural do’s and don’ts and how they could guarantee that businesses get the most out of the relationships they build.  Leading the discussion was German based UK businessman Andrew Wells from Enesco.

All the businesses involved have gained an insight into potential new opportunities and positive steps forward have now been taken by many to further investigate their export potential.

Karen Cartwright of Bags & Covers Direct reflecting on the mission said;

‘The support from the embassy was brilliant; the enthusiasm to help us was reassuring and also gave us confidence that we can trade in Germany.  We were given contact details and have had follow up calls done on our behalf since coming back to England so this again gives us the confidence in exploring opportunities, knowing there are people that can help.  Very good advice was given and we were given a clear understanding of what is achievable.’

David Jones of Beer Huis commented that;

‘We have been looking at exporting/importing into Belgium and Netherlands mostly over the last 12 months.  This has really given us the help that we have needed in not just achieving that aspect but also hopefully looking at Germany and due to the involvement with the UKTI we have now made contact with a company in Slovenia.’

Delegates were particularly impressed with the work of UKTI in helping to put the programme of events together and David Jones extended his gratitude;

‘The information supplied by Kerstin regarding us heading to beer and trade festivals in Berlin. Something we do in the UK and have been invited to one in Belgium but were unaware of any in Germany.’

For many delegates this was their first experience of the potential for exporting to Germany and the trip has certainly opened up opportunities for many of the businesses involved.  Contacts made throughout the mission can now assist Wakefield businesses in translating, PR, location advice and provide confidence in exploring potential opportunities.

Murray Angus of Proton Group said;

‘We do not do any business in Germany, so my objective for the trip was to ascertain the feasibility of exporting to Germany, to start to develop an understanding & familiarisation of trading in Germany and if possible to consider a method of trading and supplying German customers.  I am very pleased to report that we are awaiting a response from a Berlin based distributor.’ 

The mission itself was certainly a success but the work does not stop there.  For many involved they can now feel more confident in gauging their potential in Germany, Europe and even further afield.  The Wakefield Business Support Programme wants to help as many businesses as possible in pursuing the advantages of exporting and Wakefield First hope to provide some further resources that should enable local businesses to move forward, expand their influences and put Wakefield at the heart of the export market.