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International Festival of Business – how I benefitted

The bi-annual International Business Festival (@TheBusinessFest) returns to the UK in the summer of 2018. To take place in Liverpool from 12 – 28 June, the festival will be the world’s biggest international business festival. Some 30,000 industry professionals are expected to attend and take advantage of a spectacular array of business opportunities.

FSB played a major role in both the 2014 and 2016 festivals, and is doing so again: as part of the local sounding board team, by holding a major policy event focusing on export and international trade and exhibiting in the main International Marketplace for the duration of the festival. Our members have benefitted too. Matt Cairns of Mammy Jamias on the Wirral, says it’s all about meeting the right contacts from across the world.

Who are you and what is your business?

My Name is Matt Cairns and I’m a Director of the business Mammy Jamias. We supply preserves and salad dressings to the retail market in the UK and we also export to markets in the Middle East and the US.

What has been your experience of the IBF so far – what did you do, what contacts did you make, how have you benefitted?  

Over the last two years we have taken advantage of the meet the buyer events at the IBF.  This is always the hardest part of exporting, in particular, so to have interested buyers on your doorstep was a big help in developing contacts in other markets and parts of the world. The experience in 2016 was very good and the event itself was really well organised.  I was able to sit with and have meetings with at least 15 buyers from around the world.

What have the main benefits of the IBF been?  

The main benefits have been the meet the buyer events. And actually we also had good conversations with other businesses similar to ours and we were able to network and share ideas and contacts worth these businesses.

What export markets are you in? How have you found operating in these markets? 

We have been in the Middle East and also the US.  It has not been easy and we have found that the best model is to find good distributor partners to work with.  Although this cuts into margins it definitely helps with the process and the managing of orders overseas.  This is especially true for smaller businesses like ours.

Any tips for businesses looking to export for the first time, or exporters who want to expand their activities / explore different markets?  

The tip would definitely find yourself a good distributor partner who is already operating in that market.  They will help with buyers and also managing the marketing side of things in that country.  It is also a shortcut for information on labelling requirements if you have any and also any legal or culture issues that you may have to think about.

As FSB is key partner of IBF2018, there is a 30% discount available on day ticket and full festival passes for FSB members until the end of February, with other discounts available thereafter (to be announced). Email reshma.begum@fsb.org.uk or phil.mccabe@fsb.org.uk with your membership number to receive your FSB discount code. In addition, there is discounted travel available to international delegates in the form of the festival’s ‘Fly to Buy’ scheme.