South West firms embark on first virtual trade missions to Chile and Mexico

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
4th November 2020

The South West's most dynamic exporters are aiming to expand their sales in Latin America by participating in the region’s first virtual trade missions to Mexico and Chile.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and led by Sarah Hildersley, DIT’s Market specialist for Latin America in the region, firms will participate in briefing sessions with market experts and sector specialists and take part in tailored one-to-one meetings. 

The aim is to accelerate business discussions virtually to deliver sales more promptly, given the difficulties of international travel for business currently. 

The programme is worth approximately £2,500 to each company, and without travel costs and time taken to travel to these markets, there are additional savings.

Joanne Scutcher, Sales & Marketing Manager at Octavius Hunt based in Bristol, who is taking part in both trade missions, said:

“Contact with potential customers has been very limited and in the current climate it’s difficult to convince companies to take on a new range.

“Having the support of a trade mission and on the ground DIT advisers is extremely valuable.” 

Representatives from the Mexico UK Business Council will attend the virtual mission along with international trade advisors from DIT and Business West. 

Total UK exports to Mexico amounted to £2.5bn in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2020 and is another market that South West businesses are keen to expand into.

Stephen Burns, DIT Export Champion and Managing Director of Pyropress based in Plymouth, said:

“During the pandemic, revenue has dropped as economies have shrunk rapidly. Export sales have reduced less than the home UK market, and have been supporting the business through the current challenging times.

“Further expansion of sales territories at this time is therefore especially important.”

Total trade in goods and services between Chile and the UK for the year ending June 2019 was worth £2.2 billion, a 10.7% increase on the same period in 2018.1

The British Chamber of Commerce in Chile will attend the virtual event to give businesses across the South West key advice on entering the market. 

Commenting on his participation in the trade mission to Chile, Garry Smith, Managing Director of Trimetals based in Dorset, said:

“During the pandemic, Trimetal’s sales have boomed as there has been an increase in demand for garden and leisure products, particularly bicycle storage. 

“Export opportunities and visiting potential new distributors in the hope of developing strong trading relationships has become a huge focus of ours with DIT’s support.” 

Alex Sheen, Head of Sales at Sheppy’s Cider in Somerset, said:

“The most exciting thing for me is picturing someone drinking our products in countries as far away from the UK as Chile, and achieving this by building new relationships with people who have the same passion as we do for selling our ciders to consumers.

“Without DIT’s pipeline of opportunities I know we wouldn’t have grown our export business at the same rate we have over the last five to ten years.”

More information on the virtual trade missions can be found here.

For further information on DIT’s export support and international opportunities, visit Companies in the South West can find out about their export options and contact one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers by visiting

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