UK energy supply chain is innovating its way out of the crisis

Export is the least used strategy to grow for the second year

The Energy Industries Council (EIC), the leading trade association for companies that supply goods and services to the energy industries worldwide, has released the second edition of its Survive and Thrive Insight Report at a briefing with the Department for International Trade (DIT), held at the trade association’s London headquarters on 11 September.

Survive and Thrive Volume II reports on the business development strategies being used by 26 of its member companies with the solutions they have put in place generating a combined £357m in savings and new orders in one year.

The participating organisations range from family-run SME suppliers through to Tier 1 contractors and cover the full range of energy sectors: oil and gas, power, nuclear and renewable energy.

This edition of the report identifies eight strategies being used to counter the industry downturn: collaboration, digital, diversification, export, innovation, optimisation, service and solutions, and technology.

Innovation – the enhancement of products, services, and solutions – combined with technology is once again the most used growth strategy, with 69% of the participants employing this combination, compared to 73% in the inaugural study released in 2017.

Export, defined as investment in new exports, is for the second year in a row the least used of all business development solutions at 19%. The figure has risen since the first study, when only 8% of the participants used this strategy.

Only five companies mentioned Brexit as having had an impact – positive or negative – on their businesses, with just one actively developing Brexit contingency plans.

The level of government support has risen across the two studies with 65% of the 2018 participants receiving assistance from agencies such as the Department for International Trade, UK Export Finance, Scottish Enterprise, and Scottish Development International, up from 27% in 2017. The type of support received in 2018 was split almost evenly between financial and non-financial support.

EIC Survive and Thrive Volume II includes over 40 key lessons for the industry on how to overcome the crisis focusing on: export, innovation, scaling-up and culture change.

It also includes 24 energy supply chain recommendations for the government covering the areas of: Brexit, financial support for the industry and non-financial support.

Commenting on the release of the report, EIC CEO Stuart Broadley said, ‘It’s been inspiring to hear about the work these 26 EIC member companies are doing to grow and prosper in spite of the tough times we’re faced with as an industry.

‘While the case studies provide much needed good news, some of the report’s findings are worrying. The lack of planning for Brexit, which is only seven months away, is startling. Likewise, the fact that investing in new exports remains the least used strategy is a concern, particularly given the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

‘The new savings and orders generated in one year by these 26 companies amount to a staggering £357m – an incredible figure and one that we’re rightly proud of, but yet less than half of the companies have scaled-up their products or solutions. Every single company should be maximising its returns whenever possible.

‘At the EIC, we are going to follow up on the issues raised by Survive and Thrive Volume II. To help suppliers make the most of the world of opportunity that is out there we’re running the first ever Energy Export Conference next year in Aberdeen.

‘We’ll also be working with the government and our members to produce Brexit briefing documents, and to enable companies to scale-up we’re launching the Fit4Energy course in partnership with Robert Gordon University and Opportunity North East.’

To download a free copy of the report please visit: www.the-eic.com/portals/0/website/publications/insightreports/SurviveandThrive2-fullPDF.pdf

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