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13 ‘champions’ will help promote Scots exports

James Varga
James Varga: global vision

Thirteen business figures have been named as the first Export Champions for Scotland to help encourage more companies to sell into overseas markets.

The new champions are drawn from a range of sectors, including food and drink, energy, advanced manufacturing, fintech and healthcare. They include James Varga of DirectID, Alastair Walker of Walkers Shortbread and Poonam Gupta of PG Paper.

They will work voluntarily with the Department for International Trade and Scottish Development International (SDI).

Scottish exports have been improving and outperforming the rest of the UK. Scotland’s goods exports in the year ending March 2022, excluding oil & gas, increased by 5.7% compared to the year ending March 2020 when the lockdown was imposed. This figure compares to a reduction of 2.9% in the UK over the same period.

Scotland is the only part of the UK with a positive trade balance in goods with the Rest of the World, exporting £2.2bn more goods than it imported in 2021.

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “We know exporters create jobs, pay higher wages and help grow our economy, and Scottish businesses are playing a key part in making the UK an export-led economy.  

“That’s exactly what these Scottish Export Champions all hope to achieve – and I look forward to working closely with them to achieve our goal of a trillion pounds of exports a year by 2030.” 

The Export Champion community was introduced in response to a desire from businesses to receive peer-to-peer exporting support.

The Department for International Trade worked in partnership with SDI to select each Champion, with each one having a successful international trade track record, have a good story to tell about how exporting makes a positive difference to a company, and want to share their knowledge and experience with others.

Mr Walker of Walker’s Shortbread, which exports to more than 100 countries. He said: “Walker’s shortbread has a long and successful history of exporting, and it’s made a huge difference to the growth of our business.

“There’s massive demand for Scottish produce around the globe, and we should be doing all we can to encourage other Scottish businesses to sell overseas.

In addition to James Varga being appointed as an Export Champion, his company DirectID has also been appointed as the new FinTech Champion for Scotland.

The fintech Champions scheme was established by DIT last year as a way of better supporting the UK Fintech industry. DirectID will be tasked with working alongside other industry leaders to elevate Scotland and the UK’s status as a global Fintech hub.

He said: “From day one we set up DirectID with a vision to create a global platform – giving decision makers all the data they need to make confident credit & risk decisions.

“DirectID now powers some of the world’s biggest brands in North America, Europe and Asia to scale, drive efficiencies, manage risk, and create fairer outcomes for their customers.

“Whether it’s working with other industry figures to promote the UK as a place to do business, or sharing knowledge of our experience exporting to multi-national organisations, I’m proud to be supporting the growth of the £11 billion UK fintech economy.”

Scottish Export Champions:

James Varga, Direct ID

Lee Hanlon, Cesscon Decom Ltd

Hassan Heshmat, Hydro-C

Luis Gomes, AAC Clydespace

Robert Kennedy, Optos

Katie Birrell, Nairn’s Oatcakes

Alistair Walker, Walker’s Shortbread

Martin Murray, Dunnet Bay

Shahida Imani, Chromacity

Anna White, ScotlandShop 

Poonam Gupta, PG Paper

Ian Stevenson, Cyacomb

Federico Charosky, Quorum Cyber 

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