While European markets are still feeling the aftershocks from Brexit, many EU countries are experiencing strong growth.
Business confidence is especially high in France, Germany and Scandinavia.
For many Australian businesses Europe offers great opportunities for export growth.
One company that has been achieving consistent success is Australian advanced manufacturing company, PAFtec Australia, makers of CleanSpace respiratory protection equipment.
In the past three years it has achieved 100% growth year-on-year and is now turning over multi-million Euros.
Through a clearly defined European export strategy, PAFtec is one of the fastest growing Australian advanced manufacturing exports from Australia.
“We knew Europe represented one of the biggest markets for us and we required a plan that would minimise our cost exposure and provide strategic flexibility as we grew to understand the market better,” said Dr Alex Birrell, CEO of PAFtec Australia.
“Being an Australian company, we initially thought there would be major challenges in language and culture – setting up an office in Europe without being across these would be a recipe for failure,” Dr Birrell said.
Strong focus on workplace safety
But with more than 20 countries and a large percentage of multinational companies with significant investment in operations, Europe has been a perfect fit for PAFtec Australia.
Importantly, Europe has a strong focus on workplace safety. Companies are driving programs for improvement in efficiencies and cost and are keen to embrace new technology.
And despite language barriers, most European countries can move extremely quickly, says Dr Birrell.
An important part of the success of the CleanSpace product range was understanding its unique positioning against its competitors.
“Our focus is on navigating the large multinational accounts and building our sales channels,” says Dr Birrell.
“We enlisted the assistance of Exportia, a specialist European export consultancy who have been developing our European relationships, including distribution partners, customers and recruited sales agents and representatives.”
Having provided initial advice on European market entry, Exportia managed to secure early key reference customers in France including: Vinci, Lafarge, Bayer, Michelin and the City of Paris.
The company is now working to replicate similar relationships in Germany and Exportia has become a valuable long-term partner for PAFtec.
Christelle Damiens, Managing Director and Founder of Exportia, says there are many similar organisations in Australia who have products with strong IP, or a technical or complex nature that will be of interest to European multi-nationals.
PAFtec Australia is a perfect example of an organisation willing to invest and adapt to reap the huge rewards on offer, she says.
Dr Birrell says the language barrier and French employment laws initially looked difficult to overcome as PAFtec was trying to building key distributor and customer relationships.
“Exportia were able to provide the business expertise, cultural alignment and language fluency to allow PAFtec to confidently operate in the European markets to accelerate our sales.”