Dozens of Midland businesses headed off on a trade mission to Copenhagen with a view to doing business with “the happiest country in the world”.
Best known for bacon, Bang & Olufsen, Carlsberg and Lego, Denmark hosted almost 50 small and medium-sized firms on a two-day UKTI Export Insight visit to the country’s picturesque capital.
Trade between the Scandinavian country and the UK is worth up to £7 billion a year, with pharmaceuticals making up 76 per cent of trade, but there was a wide array of firms on the trip.
Among them was Graham Caunce, managing director of Handsworth name plate manufacturer Rudd Macnamara, whose company already has a Danish business partner.
The 120-year-old company, which has 40 employees, makes parts for aerospace companies including Goodrich and Rolls-Royce, as well as point of sale pump clips for the brewing industry.
“It’s probably the engineering side that’s got the most profitability here, – selling processes into Denmark,” Mr Caunce said.
“We already deal with Micro Matic here, which sells parts to Carlsberg. There’s quite a strong engineering business and we ought to have a good price advantage. It’s a high cost economy and we know we’ve got the quality products to deliver.
“We’re here to find out precisely where the companies we can export to are.”
Denmark took the top spot in the first United Nation World Happiness Report last year and Copenhagen ranked ninth in the Mercer Quality of Living index for 2012.
With a population of 5.4 million, it has high GDP per capita, world class infrastructure, and growth of up to two per cent predicted in the next few years.
It also has a highly educated flexible workforce, sophisticated consumers and no language barrier as a large proportion of the population speak good English.
Paul Noon, international trade director for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in the West Midlands, said the region was second only to London in terms of UK firms doing business with the Danes and there were 350 UK companies with bases in Denmark.
Kulsum Patel, from clothing manufacturer Paul Andrew Menswear, in Bordesley Green, said her company had received some interest from Europe.
“We export to Ireland, Spain and Russia so we’re looking at new opportunities,” she said.
“We did a show in January in Valencia and got a lot of European interest and are looking into what comes now. I came to see if it was a flexible market here and what opportunities there are for new products.
“In terms of networking the trip has been beneficial.”
Among the many delegates dipping their toe into the export market for the first time, there was a strong contingent from the digital education sector and the creative industries.
Over the course of two days, the visitors heard from the Danish Chamber of Commerce, case stories from local business leaders and had the chance to network with native firms.
Culturally the high-tech Danes love the Brits and appear to have a similar sense of humour – Danish TV on Sunday could be mistaken for Blighty with reruns of Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse and even Emmerdale.
British Ambassador to Denmark, Vivian Life, said: “There’s real affection and respect for the UK here.
“We joined the EU together and move together on a lot of issues.
“Denmark is a good place to export, it’s an open and uncorrupt place.”
Kristoffer Klebak, head of international affairs at the Danish Chamber of Commerce, said: “Great Britain is Denmark’s third largest trade partner both in import and export, but there is still room for improving the trade relations between the two nations – not at least for small and mid-sized companies.
“The impressive turnout on the day clearly demonstrated that we should do more to promote Danish-British trade.”