Rail Forum East Midlands has joined forces with the Department for International Trade for a series of initiatives to support SMEs keen to succeed in new markets around the globe – capitalising on the region’s international reputation as a major centre of rail excellence.

Michelle Craven Faulkner, Vice Chair of RFEM said:

“The collaboration will enable RFEM to draw on DIT’s wide ranging skills and experience to support our members as they seek to develop both new and existing export markets.”

As well as hosting a number of joint events; covering key issues related to exporting in the rail sector, RFEM has developed a dedicated exporting page in association with DIT East Midlands. Here you will find regular updates, news and details of upcoming events.

To sign up for the next event, or exclusive RFEM member workshop, email sophia@midlandsrail.co.uk

DIT are very pleased to be working with RFEM. Your rail contact is Catherine Appleby: Catherine.appleby@mobile.ukti.gov.uk mobile: 07825 344 587 – do get in touch with any queries.

September – Attending an exhibition

It is just 12 months until the mother of all rail shows, Innotrans 2018, hits Berlin so this month, lets look at attending exhibitions.   By the way, if you are considering exhibiting at Innotrans, get in touch with your International Trade Advisor (or me) to find out about the Great Pavilion.

In the meantime, September 2017 means Trako.  Trako is a mini Innotrans, hosted in Gdansk Poland.  The Great Pavilion is back at Trako again this year, with 17 UK exhibitors.

RFEM Member Garrandale will be exhibiting at the show this year and this is why they have decided to exhibit.  Tim Brown, Managing Director of Garrandale said “Exporting is a growing area of business for us.  We have restructured the company to better support our UK and international companies and, as a result this new capacity makes markets such as Poland and Australia key to our growth plans.  Poland is a significant rail market with long term investment and modernisation plans.  Our range of specialist rail depot products, have a natural fit to developments.  Being at the show is key to fostering new relationships”

Not only do we have the Pavilion at Trako, but there is a Midlands Engine mission to the show too.  I will be hosting a 2 day mission programme includes a visit to Gdansk operator GAIT, a seminar programme and support on day 1 of the show.  Missions are a great way to visit a market, with lots of support, guidance and sometimes funding as well as opportunities to meet key companies.  And maybe next time, some of these visitors will be exhibiting.
So visiting or exhibiting, the key to a successful show is preparation and here are my top tips:

Know before you go:

  • researching the market, your typical buying organisation and identify any individuals.
  • get in touch with identified individuals before the show and start talking.  Aim for a meeting at the show.
  • Prepare any material to support your meetings – don’t forget to consider translation!

When you are there, maximise your time and plan for:

  • lead generation – meetings with target buyers and drop-bys at potential buyer stands
  • Intermediaries – reach out to trade associations, consultants, regulators etc and
  • Competitor analysis – check them out!

Become a savvy marketer (its not hot air!)

  • Time to start talking about the fact you are going.
  • Website updates, twitter feeds, LinkedIn updates all help to communicate to your clients and prospective clients that you are a lean mean export machine!

How can Department for International Trade help you?

  • Did you know that DIT often have sector scoping reports that can provide an overview of the market.  If there isn’t one already, consider commissioning one of your own.  The more you know about your target market, the more likely you are to succeed there.
  • Did you know that DIT have extensive international contacts, across most sectors.  For key markets, we even have a dedicated Rail Lead.  Speak to your International Trade Advisor about connecting with our overseas colleagues.
  • Matching your capability with a prospective client need is key and understanding your buyer and how they may assess you is essential.  Did you know that DIT and Rail Forum East Midlands run “International Selling Skills” which is all about thinking like a buyer to help you sell.  Next date is 4th December – contact Sophia for details.

catherine appleby


International Trade Advisor, Transport Equipment Manufacturing, Department for International Trade East Midlands

DIT’s Catherine Appleby is the new International Trade Advisor for the Rail sector covering the whole East midlands patch. Catherine comes from a rail inward investment and advanced engineering business support background and is keen to catch up with members of RFEM to support both first forays into exporting and to develop export growth opportunities for those more experienced firms. She will be out and about at various events, and meeting regional rail firms over the coming months.

For queries, please drop her line directly;

Email: Catherine.Appleby@mobile.trade.gov.uk

Tel: 07825 344 587