Brits Mean Business

Jenny Gardner, director of UK Trade and Investment in Stockholm, blogs about Britain, Sweden and doing business.

Be British, be sincere and be bold

Spring has finally arrived in Sweden and some are even saying that summer is here. Next week we will have to call it summer as the British-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Sweden is to hold a brilliant summer dinner party. It is going to be an excellent evening and we are getting the best support possible from London, as our Trade Minister Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint will attend and speak at the event. This is also the first time the BSCC will give out its annual BSCC Award, which aims to support and draw attention to people who have worked passionately to strengthen the special relationship that exists between Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Being a member of the the BSCC’s executive committee and board, I must say how impressed I am with the members’ interest and dedication to the chamber and the brilliant programme of events that the Chamber is running. I am also delighted with the great cooperation that exists between the Embassy and the Chamber. It certainly keeps the interest in British business bubbling. I would highly recommend British companies coming to Sweden to join the BSCC as soon as possible, as it provides a great network, full of knowledgeable people when it comes to both business and Sweden. Similarly, I would urge Swedish companies interested in the UK market to do the same.

But why should British business come to Sweden? What is the main attraction of Sweden for UK exporters? To use the Swedish word ‘smorgåsbord’ – Sweden is a veritable smorgåsbord for UK business. We have a stable economy that has grown quite substantially during the past three years. We have more than nine million people, with some of the highest GDP per capita in the world. Almost everyone speaks English and we are in general big fans of British goods and services. And on top of all that, we host all types of companies – clusters of small and medium sized enterprises, as well as multinationals like Electrolux, Sandvik, SKF, Handelsbanken, Vattenfall, Ericsson, IKEA and Saab – with important supply chain opportunities for British companies.

So how can a British company get access to the Swedish market and how can UKTI at the British Embassy help potential UK exporters? 

I see our work as a bit like a kind of dragon’s den for both for larger and smaller British companies. It is about matching the UK companies, not with cash, but with Swedish market opportunities – a combination of strategically advising about the market paired with a practical approach in assisting companies in accessing networks and crucial resources. 

A good example of this ‘smorgåsbord’ was highlighted in the UK’s Daily Telegraph only a week ago. An article called “Sweden provides perfect test for first-time exporters” highlights how a male grooming business has entered the market with the help of UKTI. My colleague Magnus Almén was interviewed and it is a very good read for anyone interested in doing business in Sweden. 

So both the BSCC and UKTI are key resources in Sweden. However, I have some top tips for UK companies looking to move into Sweden. These would be to:

Be British, be sincere and be bold.

Swedes really appreciate the UK – the cultural heritage, the politeness, the sense of humour and the opportunity to speak English. Almost a million people (around one ninth of the population) go to the UK each year.

Focus on being sincere when it comes to both your products and your business conduct. People here like honesty and feel it is important to be earnest.

And no matter where you are going, you need to be bold to be an entrepreneur and to run a business.

So be British, be sincere and be bold – and come to Sweden.

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