Exporting is GREAT | Devon Chamber of Commerce

Devon Chamber of Commerce and Industry

T: 01752 220471

Exporting is GREAT

With over 2,400 staff across 100 key global markets, no other organisation is better equipped to help connect your business overseas.


Through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) you can gain access to an abundance of services to help you with all aspects of your export strategy. Whether you are a first time exporter or if you want to find new markets, UKTI is here to help.

We have experienced International Trade Advisers who will act as your guide to help develop your international business strategy, as well as events, market research, training, webinars, trade shows and market visits; your journey will not be alone!

UKTI services can open doors overseas to help you:

  • Identify export opportunities (link to www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk)
  • Reach customers/business partners otherwise not accessible
  • Overcome barriers to market entry or expansion
  • Access powerful research to inform key decisions
  • Create and grow overseas marketing including eCommerce
  • Give you access to the Overseas Business Network
  • Ensure you are equipped to deal with cultural and language differences

Our services are for first time exporters and experienced exporters alike.

We've helped 1000s of local businesses get started in export or to grow their international trade activity. Learn how Paul Thompson developed his business into an internationally-selling franchis.

Paul founded Water Babies in 2002 and joined the ranks of the parent-preneur. The inspiration for Water Babies came after he attended swimming classes with his child. Paul soon realised that this was something he could do better. He became an instructor and it was clear he had a natural gift for teaching swimming. It was from this experience, coupled with a lot of market research and analysis, the idea for Water Babies was born.

Taking the Plunge

Fast-forward seven years and by 2009, Water Babies was reaching full market penetration in the UK. Paul was receiving lots of offers to take the brand to other countries all over the world but was still unsure about giving it a go. Dipping his toe in the water, Paul started with Ireland and had phenomenal success. “Ireland gave me the courage to really consider that we could create a global brand,” says Paul.

Paul recognised that he needed to be strategic in his plans, his phone never stops ringing with business opportunities but he wanted to avoid a scattergun approach to growth. In order to expand in a considered way he was going to need export expertise to support his plans. The Franchise Centre introduced Water Babies to UKTI.

Working with his designated International Trade Advisor (ITA), Paul tapped into all the advice, capabilities and support UKTI could offer and took advantage of many of the services available.

Swimming Upstream

Water Babies had support from UKTI that included market research and market selection assistance which helped Water Babies identify where they wanted to be in the continents of Europe, North America, Australasia and China. Once this was clear, Water Babies set about a gateway to entry with the support of UKTI.

“ UKTI’s help included sourcing relevant research available in the market and identification of the decisions to be made for new market entry e.g. our options for routes to market, appropriate pricing for Water Babies, plus any adaption to the service offering we would need to make. It also included advice on how to find out about market size, competitors, our potential customers, legislation and regulations, “ says Paul.

Water Babies was also advised by UKTI’s language and culture service. “The course on cultural differences was really valuable, one of the most valuable investments we made. We also met with UKTI partners such as the China Britain Business Council to further grow our market knowledge, “ says Paul.

“UKTI is very quick, pragmatic, business focused, systematic and strategic. The experience has been quite exceptional and the service really good. Over the course of this process my UKTI International Trade Advisor has become my trusted mentor, facilitator and introducer. I was also really impressed by the market researchers. The market visits were a useful and insightful opportunity to plan our expansion, “ says Paul.

Catching the Wave 

In 2014 Water babies entered Canada as a gateway to North America, New Zealand as a stepping-stone to Australasia and the Netherlands as a first step into mainland Europe. By the year end Water Babies made its first moves into China and Germany, two of the biggest markets on the globe.

“Water Babies is a great example of a brand that has taken full advantage of the UKTI toolkit of services. The geographical footprint they have secured has put them in a very strong position to achieve future growth. Our support, doesn’t stop here though, we are looking forward to continuing to work with Water Babies on the next phase of their export journey”, says International Trade Adviser, Steve Southcott.

“This export process has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s a learning curve but it won’t be as alien as you think. If I could give any advice to an entrepreneur it would be that you don’t have to do this alone. Take all the help and advice that UKTI can offer,” concludes Paul.

“Water Babies is now one of the UK’s most successful franchise businesses and the world's biggest baby and toddler swimming company, teaching over 45,000 children in around 560 pools every week through a network of family businesses,” says Paul. “ The business has achieved rapid growth through a franchising model and has given many other parents and teachers who share the same values and high standards as us the opportunity to become small business owners.”

A world of opportunity awaits

Find out more:


UKTI South West Regional Office
T: 01275 370944

E: uktisw@mobile.ukti.gov.uk



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