Siddharth Shankar is the CEO of innovative company Tails Trading, which enables British SMEs to successfully export their goods to the Asian market.
Tails Trading is currently partnering with around 250 British SMEs to market and sell their brands in the growing pan-Asian market, covering a wide range of products including luxury goods, technology and industrial products. Here, Siddharth shares his thoughts on how SMEs can weather the Brexit storm and turn it into an opportunity to grow outside the EU export market.
Where did the idea for Tails Trading come from?
I was studying for my MBA at Strathclyde Business School when the Brexit referendum happened. When meeting lots of SME owners who were nervous about trading conditions post Brexit, my business partner and I — who’s Chinese — asked these businesses why they didn’t export to the Asian markets. We knew there was a high demand for British goods in Asia and these companies had quality products that would be sought after, so it seemed as if they were missing a key growth opportunity.
After several discussions we came to two conclusions as to why this wasn’t happening: risk appetite and resources. For many SMEs, dealing in new markets with an alien jurisdiction was too great a risk. That’s when we saw a space for our idea. After the referendum, the UK’s exports were at their lowest point, so we soon realised that this the perfect opportunity to start a company to boost UK exports globally.
What’s so special about British goods?
When I was working as an investor across multiple industries in India, I could see the demand for quality British-made goods. Research shows that while the people in the pan-Asian markets – which is broadly classified as the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, Greater China and East Asia — are diverse in culture, they all share a love of British goods. In fact, in India, China and UAE, more than half of consumers are prepared to pay more for goods made in the UK because they perceive the quality to be higher. The market’s increasing buying power meant we knew there was room for us to start our company to put the two together. Demand has been rising steadily for the past twenty years.
This has, and continues to be, the case across all major emerging markets worldwide, not just in Asia.
So what does Tails Trading do that will help SMEs post Brexit?
We underwrite the technical and financial risks for SMEs who want to export to Asian markets. We buy the products from brands based here in the UK, keep the brand and the names, and invest in the marketing and PR of those products through our local offices in Asia. This means that British brands are being offered in a varied marketplace — the pan-Asian market has 4.6 billion people. We are confident in driving our brands’ production and sales by seven times on average. We currently partner around 250 SMEs.
How do you think businesses will be affected in a post-Brexit Britain?
It all hinges on what deal is struck, but there’s no doubt that in the short term there’s going to be a lot of confusion. Businesses are going to have to get to grips with regulatory changes and this will have a financial impact on their exports to the EU.
Despite this, I still firmly believe there’s lots of opportunity in the long term. The EU will still want British goods, even if costs go go up, and large British businesses should be able to supply this demand effectively. SMEs, however, may struggle with the rise in costs, so looking to other markets is vital. Now is the time for SMEs to take their brands global, and we hope to help them do this successfully.
Siddharth Shankar is a leading expert in trading with Asia and CEO of Tails Trading, an innovative new solution helping UK SMEs to export their goods to Asia. Visit www.tailstrading.com to find out more.