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New series of workshops to help SMEs trade with high street stores

London, 13 October 2017 – The Great British Exchange (GBE) and GS1 UK will be delivering a series of workshops to boost the skills of British SMEs so they are better prepared to trade with leading high street retailers.

60 SMEs are expected to attend the inaugural workshop today, which coincides with National Start-Ups Day UK (Friday 13 October), at John Lewis’s Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes where they will learn how to work more effectively with large retailers.

Topics to be discussed on the day have been designed to build up the skills of British SMEs and include managing cash flow, building a brand and how to leverage their products’ unique British identity.

SMEs attending will receive further guidance from the owner of a successful small business and a crowdfunding support academy, while also having the opportunity to speak to advisors from the Department for International Trade (DIT) about how they can sell their products to international markets.

Fiona Carr, Director of The Harrogate Candle Company, will be sharing her experience of how she swapped the life of a management consultant to becoming the owner of a successful small business.

Fiona Carr said: “It’s been a constant learning curve as we’ve built up the business and we really had to step things up when our retailer base shifted from small, independent retailers to the larger department stores and national chains.

“But we were not phased and it was our ability to quickly and seamlessly comply with the new purchasing and product requirements that demonstrated to these retailers we were able to deliver exactly what they wanted.”

She added: “Small businesses have to help each other out and I would thoroughly recommend to those who are looking to go to the next level and work with large retailers to plan ahead and be prepared to modify your operations, such as your invoicing system, quickly and effectively.”

GBE is a marketplace hub for British producers and manufacturers, helping small businesses to sell into more retail locations in the UK and internationally.

Matt Hopkins, Managing Director of The Great British Exchange, said: “We’ve always prided ourselves on supporting British producers by providing a route to market. Now we’re doing even more - by teaming up with GS1 UK, The Department for International Trade and John Lewis to help more of our members get retail ready, faster than ever before.”

GS1 UK helps everyone involved in making, moving and trading goods, automate and standardise their supply chain processes using the common language of GS1 global standards.

Monica Bird, GS1 UK’s Head of Marketplaces, said: “SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and it is absolutely vital they receive as much guidance as possible to help them be in a better position to trade with and supply the major retailers.

“We’re really excited to be working with The Great British Exchange and we hope that today’s workshop with John Lewis and the Department of International Trade will be the first of many events to really benefit British SMEs.”

Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Rona Fairhead said: “Exporting is vital to the continued growth of our economy, and the UK as a whole. We want to help as many SMEs as possible achieve their global potential and these workshops with our partner GS1 are a great way to learn how to trade internationally.”

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Notes to editors

For further enquiries or for interview requests, please contact Steven Fifer on: 020 7092 3584 or

Spokespeople available for interview requests include:

About GS1 UK

GS1 UK is a community of over 30,000 members working in retail, foodservice, healthcare and more. GS1 UK is one of 112 independent, not-for-profit GS1 organisations operating across 150 countries worldwide. GS1 UK helps everyone involved in making, moving and trading goods, automate and standardise their supply chain processes using the common language of GS1 global standards.