British CFOs looking abroad for growth

UK BUSINESSES are targeting overseas markets for growth this year with India the favoured destination, a global poll of 519 senior finance executives has found.

According to research by American Express, 41% UK finance directors are focused on the developed world for growth with only 17% reporting that they will export more to emerging markets. However, India, China and Brazil were the most frequently identified markets where finance executives expected to expand their activities.

A third expect to increase sales and distribution activity, as opposed to production (20%) and sourcing (17%), an indication of the impact the rapidly expanding consumer classes of the emerging markets are having on the world economy.

Finance functions aim to play a leading role in this development, with 37% saying that the greatest contribution to growth their CFO could make over the next two years would be to help identify new markets, while 66% expect to increase expenditure on business travel compared to last year.

They are making this investment primarily to build customer relationships, with 28% planning to spend more, and 59% planning to spend the same amount on travelling to meet current or prospective customers. Those surveyed in the UK also said they are likely to be spending more or the same this year on travelling to meet suppliers or vendors.

Brendan Walsh, senior vice-president, global corporate payments Europe, American Express said: “UK businesses pursuing a growth agenda recognise the huge potential of overseas markets. Clearly, this has led to a willingness to increase investments in business travel in the year ahead. However, in the current economic environment, UK executives reveal a cautious, meaning that we can expect companies to focus on getting value for money and a significant ROI for their investments.”

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