Two firms from the north named in Sunday Times SME export list

Ballymena soft drinks manufacturer, Norbev has been included in the Sunday Times SME Export Track 100.
Ballymena soft drinks manufacturer, Norbev has been included in the Sunday Times SME Export Track 100.

TWO Northern Ireland-headquartered firms have been included in the top 20 of a prestigious Sunday Times list recognising export prowess.

Ballymena soft drinks manufacturer, Norbev and Eglinton steel parts manufacturer, Global Equipment Spares are new entries in this year's UK-wide SME Export Track 100, to be published this weekend.

They appear alongside well-known businesses from around the UK, including; online jewellery brand Missoma, popcorn maker Joe & Seph’s, and coffee shop chain AMT Coffee.

Placing seventh in the rankings, Norbev has contracts with global brands including; Coca-Cola, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Barr, and exports to

the Republic, the Netherlands, as well as America. The company's strong position in the standings is attributed to international sales growth of 195 per cent to £8 million in 2017. This represented almost half of total sales for the year (£20.9m)

Co Derry firm, Global Equipment Spares featured at 17th in the list in recognition of export sales totalling £1.8m last year. The firm, which reported total sales in excess of £8m, manufactures steel parts for customers in the US, Canada and western Europe in industries including mining, construction and recycling.

Last year the Eglinton manufacturer announced fresh funding of £800,000 from Santander Business Banking towards export growth. The support added to £1.5m of previous financing.

The latest SME league table shows that despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Europe continues to be the most important overseas market with more than four fifths of companies (85 per cent) selling there. However, many are now looking further afield for future growth, with 82 of the 100 targeting expansion outside of Europe.

Jonathan Quin, CEO and co-founder at WorldFirst, the title sponsor, congratulated this year's top 100.

“International markets present tremendous opportunities for UK businesses and the rewards of being a successful exporter are clear from the growth demonstrated by all the businesses here. That said, there are challenges and risks too and so we should also recognise the brave and committed leadership that has got them to this point.”

Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade, added:

“SMEs are fundamental to achieving our target of increasing exports as a percentage of GDP to 35 per cent, so it is vital we give them the recognition they deserve. The exporters listed in this year’s SME Export Track 100 are pioneers whose example should be followed by ambitious businesses across the UK.”