By Daniel Hunter

Parveen Thornhill, Regional Director for London UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government exporting body, has welcomed the news that the Capital’s exports hit £35.3 billion to the end of March 2012, the largest increase in exports for any region and up from £29.9 billion for the previous period to March 2011.

The quarterly figures from HMRC were driven mainly by increased exports to India, which were up by £1.2 billion, an 84 per cent increase on the previous year. Overseas sales to the Netherlands were also up by £914 million, a rise of 52 per cent.

“These are fantastic figures for London — an increase of 18 per cent since last year and a real boost for the Capital’s companies," Parveen said.

“With the eyes of the world on London this summer for the Olympics and Paralympics we want to help firms make the most of this golden opportunity to boost their businesses.

“A recent survey by Deloitte found that the Games are providing a significant boost to ‘Brand Britain’ particularly among the growing numbers of middle class consumers in China and India. More than two thirds of respondents in the survey associated the Olympics with the UK.

“And we are doing what we can to help companies take advantage of this, including UKTI’s British Business Club, www.britishbusinessclub.org. It’s a free, online, one stop shop, which provides details of up to date networking events, business activity, news and details of potential partners. The aim is to boost opportunities for UK companies, who can also add their own events to this website free of charge and help them make beneficial international business connections.

“The Olympics will leave a fantastic legacy for London firms, giving future hosts of big sporting events confidence in UK companies.

“And with all manner of events, from the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and then the Games in 2016, followed by the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022, we plan to help firms take advantage and have already got a market visits to Russia planned for September.”

One firm who has already benefitted from the Olympics 2012 are London city firm Zoobug, an award winning specialist in children’s glasses and sunglasses who won the licence to produce the official London 2012 Sunglass Collection for children aged 2 to 12.

“As a relatively small company, winning an Olympics contract has given us an incredible boost to our reputation here and abroad and a credibility which opens doors," Director and founder Julie Diem Le said.

"We are now able to present our business alongside the big players. We are already selling in 21 countries, but we have certainly seen an increase in online overseas orders off the back of the Olympics contract with orders flooding in from South America, Asia, and the US with the Team GB range being the most popular product. Working with a UKTI International Trade Adviser has been an important part of our growth, her commercial experience and hands-on approach was extremely helpful to our business. We have grown from three to eight staff and are forecasting £1.5m turnover this year, up from £500,000 last financial year.”

Parveen added:

“Companies like Zoobug demonstrate the credibility that an Olympics contract can bring to firms overseas.

“UKTI’s “Host 2 Host” maximises the economic benefits of hosting the 2012 Games, by creating links and sharing best practice with previous and future host cities of Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major sporting events.

“The opportunities on these large scale international projects and contracts, from major infrastructure, manufacturing and engineering, through to big supply or value chain opportunities, could be worth trillions.

“British business people need to take advantage of the Olympics and the Jubilee to help us export our way out of the recession, as they offer a vital way for individual businesses to boost their profits and for us to boost our economy as a whole.

“The Games offer a huge stage for UK companies to show their credentials to overseas buyers, both by providing the greatest business networking event in the global calendar, and by demonstrating to those countries with international sporting events coming up, our world class ability."

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