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Exporters exceed expectations

By Monique Thompson
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Growth healthier for exporting firms, but proximity to customers is the key

In Africa, more exporting businesses report growth in revenues or profits than companies focusing on solely domestic trade, finds latest survey by Regus, the flexible workspace provider. For the third year running, exporting firms globally confirm they have an advantage with 40% reporting profit growth over the last twelve months compared to only 36% of those trading only domestically.

While reaching out to a larger pool of prospects certainly plays a part in exporter's success this survey also confirms that that having a presence in the same country as clients or customers carries a number of benefits. Specifically, 85% of African businesses say that physical proximity helps them deal more effectively with customer problems. Being close to clients also means businesses understand customers and markets better (82%) and improves customer retention rates (82%).

But foreign expansion is a big step for businesses to take and a difficult one if support is lacking. In particular, African firms report that aside from making customer introductions, their government trade delegations can most usefully help them expand abroad by providing advice on legal and regulatory matters (53%).

Other findings from the survey show that African firms say that:

Being close to customers means businesses can improve customer satisfaction (79%);

78% of firms say a location close to their clients can boost sales and increase marketing effectiveness (78%);

Government introductions to local business organisations and associations (44%) and advice on taxation (24%) would also help businesses planning foreign expansion;

Almost a third of businesses (28%) would benefit from a directory of places to network.

Joanne Bushell, VP Africa at Regus comments: 'People always talk about 'getting close to the customer', but in expert markets that can be literally true. Our survey respondents told us that having a physical presence close to their customers brings about a number of benefits. In particular, businesses report that better customer retention, faster problem resolution and greater satisfaction can be achieved by setting up a location in proximity to their customers or clients.

'On the other hand, setting up a presence abroad is a challenging task if you don't have the right support from your home government. Businesses globally report that the best help they could expect from their government trade delegation when expanding (aside from client introductions) is getting legal and regulatory advice, taxation and local custom information and tips on where to network and meet local businesses. Where this information is not made available or is incomplete, businesses would do best to partner with firms that understand the world of business and that can provide local know-how and connections.

For more information contact:
Regus is the global workplace provider.

Its network of more than 2,000 business centres in 102 countries provides convenient, high-quality, fully serviced spaces for people to work, whether for a few minutes or a few years. Companies like Google, Toshiba and GlaxoSmithKline choose Regus so that they can work flexibly and make their businesses more successful.

The key to flexible working is convenience and so Regus is opening wherever its 1.5million members want support - city centres, suburban districts, shopping centres and retail outlets, railway stations,

motorway service stations and even community centres.

Founded in Brussels, Belgium, in 1989, Regus is based in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit:

www.regus.com