Should You Rethink Your International Expansion?

Challenging EU markets are prompting UK firms to look elsewhere for international growth. Brandauer reveals its unusual recipe for export success.

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Brandauer is a world-class manufacturer of precision stamped components, supplying a wide range of markets from electronics and telecoms, to the medical and automotive sectors.

The business currently exports 70% of the goods developed at its Birmingham headquarters to markets across the world; a true British success story that underlines the benefits of a clear international expansion strategy.

Piggy-backing into new markets

CEO Rowan Crozier explains the firm's deliberate approach of partnering with global blue-chip companies and OEMs, then piggy-backing them into new markets.

"We've done that very successfully with one customer where we started supplying them in Ireland, before moving into Eastern Europe and the Middle East, then the USA, South America and eventually China," he says.

By working alongside customers with an overseas presence, Brandauer was able to draw from their knowledge and experience of international markets.

This insight proved invaluable when identifying soft entry points to new overseas markets, ultimately leading to a strategy that could be considered unusual for UK firms; bypassing parts of the EU in favour of China.

Starting with China

Crozier explains that looking to markets like China first was a practical move that proved successful, as the country is responsible for a third of its current turnover.

"We are a high-end technical innovator and have a lot of like for like competition in markets like France and Germany," he explains.

"In China, for example, there is not the same level of competition so growth there has been easier."

With fewer competitors in China Brandauer was able to grow its reputation relatively uncontested, while giving the firm an impressive claim with which it could secure new business.

"Our success to date has helped raise our profile both here and overseas and that has had an exponential impact," Crozier adds.

"Being able to say that we're sending millions of parts to China every week is a great head turner for prospective clients."

Managing new business

Crozier stresses the need for a consistent level of service across Brandauer's new and existing territories, which may present a significant challenge for the unprepared.

While the company now operates in several geographies its international strategy was developed with restraint, focusing in establishing a strong foundation in one location before migrating that expertise to another.

“Our business is all about meeting the bespoke needs of our clients, now with a capability to supply a low, medium or high volume precision stamped component solution. We've even invested heavily in our own Special Products Department to look at prototyping work,” says Crozier.

"Being in so many sectors and geographic regions, we've learned an awful lot about client expectations and specific industry requirements that we can then carry across in to each new market."

Focusing on China first then migrating that expertise to new markets has enabled Brandauer to take a calculated, informed approach to international growth. It is a process that continues to evolve.

 

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