Top Prize in National Export Competition

Salford-based First Chop Brewing Arm – a brewer of gluten-free craft beer that exports to Italy – is savouring the sweet taste of success in a national export competition.

The six-strong business, which is now targeting Mexico and the Dominican Republic, won almost £7k of funding and support after giving judges a flavour of its export vision at Open to Export’s Action Plan Showcase Competition at Excel.

The brewer was one of eight finalists in the food and drink sector who had produced Export Action Plans through Open to Export’s innovative digital business planning tool.

The prize comprised £3k cash funding, courtesy of SDL Managed Translation and Heathrow Airport Limited, a £3k website package from Yell and two free places on an Institute of Export & International Trade public training course worth £700.

Fellow finalists were Artisan Bread Ltd, Gardener and Green Ltd, Heavenly Organic Superfoods, Ormos Foods, Popcorn Shed Ltd, The Lakes Distillery and SWIG Flasks.

Open to Export is a government funded digital route to boost the UK’s SME exports. Its Export Action Plan tool is part of a website dedicated to helping new and inexperienced businesses prepare to sell internationally by giving them unlimited free access to information, support and advice.

Helping companies make decisions along each step of their exporting journey – from selecting a market to delivering products or services to new customers – the tool provides additional wide-ranging support. Once complete, it produces a report in an easy to read format, which is perfect for sharing with international trade advisers or banks to better inform export planning conversations.

Each of the shortlisted companies will benefit from a year’s free small business membership with the Institute of Export & International Trade and a web translation voucher from SDL Managed Translation.

Sponsored by DIT, Heathrow Airport Limited and SDL Managed Translation, the judging panel comprised Lesley Batchelor OBE – CEO of Open to Export and Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Julian Hucker – entrepreneur and Chairman of Open to Export, Tony Lamb – Director of the Department for International Trade, Robert Gordy – CEO of SDL Managed Translation, Ben Crowley – Head of Food and Beverage for Heathrow Airport Limited and Nicola Thomas, Director, FDEA.