The firm has been family-owned since the 1980s and despite going through tough times during the financial crisis – particularly as it supplied drainage materials to the construction industry – it is still in business thanks to the firm's ability to adapt, according to its marketing manager.
"The Foundry has survived because it's been prepared to diversify its business," Richard Hall told CNBC. "You have to be positive and you have to look for the opportunities out there. As a smaller business you've also got to be prepared to move quickly - being able to do that is an advantage that not many big companies have."
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SMEs like Hargreaves Foundry could "do with less interference from the government and the faffing about with the increasing layers of bureaucracy," Hall said, adding that British businesses needed to be left to "get on with it."
All too aware of the importance of SMEs to the economy the U.K. government has vowed to support smaller businesses. At the start of 2013, Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston pledged to create a "Brittelstand," a network of U.K. SMEs that export like their German counterparts. Currently only one in five of the U.K.'s SMEs currently export, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), showing that many smaller businesses are missing the rewards of foreign markets and consumers.
Pledging every mid-sized business in the U.K. "tailored trade advice and an intensive programme of support to help them start exporting," the government says it will offer support through UKTI, a non-ministerial government department. With its help, the department website states "on average mid-sized businesses can increase their sales by £1.8 million."
One British firm that has used UKTI to make inroads into foreign markets is the Brompton Bicycle company. Famous for its lightweight folding bike, Bromptons have been production in the U.K. since 1981. Now, it produces up to 45,000 bicycles a year, employs 230 people and exports to 44 markets worldwide. In 2013, the company's turnover was £27.5 million.
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