The SAPCA Export Group is preparing to step up its activities following the appointment of Bob Edge as its new chair. First launched in 2015, the group was set up to guide and advise companies looking to expand their products and services into new markets.
Edge is the managing director of Envirostik, a leader in adhesives for synthetic grass-based sports surfaces. With his vast experience in exporting, Edge will be invaluable to the group, as it looks to inform and advise SAPCA members on doing business abroad – from identifying opportunities outside the UK to offering guidance on the steps needed to bid and secure projects.
In July, the Export Group was represented at a meeting organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT). The government department had invited staff from 12 of its overseas offices to London in order to update the teams on British industry’s capabilities across a number of sectors – including sport.
The 12 offices represented a number of countries that have secured major sporting events – such as Peru (host of the 2019 Pan-American Games), Japan (2020 Olympic Games) and Qatar (FIFA World Cup 2022) – and countries with rapidly growing sports sectors, such as China and India. During the meeting, UK companies and organisations were given the opportunity to present their capacities and abilities to the representatives.
“Our presence at the meeting meant that we were able to offer an insight of what the sector can offer,” Edge said.
“SAPCA is currently a DIT Trade Challenge Partner and the next step is to develop an export strategy to guide our work. The strategy will look to help existing exporters to increase their international business, as well as encourage smaller UK companies to begin to export.”
Edge adds that the work the group does is likely to increase in importance, as a growing number of members look to benefit from the rapidly growing international sports industry.
According to Plunkett Research, the global sports industry is now worth around US$1.3trn (£987bn). As well as growing in monetary value, the industry is expanding its geographical reach, with emerging nations looking to develop and improve their sports infrastructures. This will create opportunities for suppliers and service providers in markets such as the UK, where companies have the expertise and knowledge to assist developing sports economies.
Brexit and its implications will also keep the group busy over the next 18 months. This is because once Britain leaves the single market, the way UK companies are able to access the EU market will change. Whatever form the free trade agreements take, the export group will be on hand to interpret them.
Many SAPCA members are already active outside the UK and there are plenty of recent export successes within the association’s ranks.
One of these was the selection of SIS Pitches to design, construct and install six of the 12 stadium pitches for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. The company’s SISGrass system consists of 95 per cent natural turf reinforced with plastic – meaning that this year’s World Cup final was the first to be played on a part-synthetic pitch.
Elsewhere, B&L Fencing’s installation at the Goals Soccer Centre in Pomona, California, earned the company a finalist’s spot for the 2017 SAPCA Award.