The Telegraph - HSBC Business Thinking

Laurence McDougall, Joint Owner and Managing Director of All Steels Trading, based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, buys steel from across the world and sells it mainly to stockholders and users in the UK.

Turnover is expected to double to about £33 million this year while income, combined with that from sister company Tomrods, will be about £50 million. All Steels Trading is also looking to move into Germany, France, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries.

Mexico is evidently an immensely proud country that is steeped in both history and culture. Virtually all of the nationals that I have met through the Thought Exchange programme appear to be extremely forward thinking individuals who are very receptive to the idea of collaborating and working in a much more diverse manner than has historically been the case.

From a business perspective one cannot ignore that Mexico is the world’s twelfth largest economy and a country that will enjoy exceptional strong GDP growth over the coming years compared to our mature European countries. One also ought not to ignore that the labour force is in excess of 46 million, demographically young and where shop floor salaries are circa a twelfth of those seen in the UK.

From the Thought Exchange it is now very obvious to me that Mexican companies are keen to develop exports way beyond the US, which currently accounts for 80% of foreign transactions and given the low cost of Mexican manufacture, opportunities must exist to develop steel exports to Europe. All Steels Trading will therefore be exploring all such opportunities through the contacts established during the Thought Exchange programme.

As for my specific learning, the Thought Exchange programme has provided clear guidance on the practicalities of how to conduct business in Mexico. It has also provided excellent opportunity to meet very like-minded business owners and directors, top HSBC commercial executives, Mexican business owners and British Embassy Officials that collectively provided no end of good ideas, thoughts and guidance on how to assist the advancement of my own particular business here.

What can British Business learn from Mexico? Well, I believe that Britain simply can’t afford to ignore the pace of globalisation and the acceleration on trade flows that are resulting from the growth in the emerging markets. Mexico is undoubtedly one of the hotspots for strong economic growth and British business will surely learn from watching how business grows in this type of environment.

In addition to learning, it is equally important for British businesses to share part of this wealth generation. It is therefore of fundamental importance that our nation makes a deliberate entry into countries like Mexico through acquisition, partnerships or even through new start up ventures where such opportunities will naturally exist.

Listening to the owners of successful privately owned companies in Mexico also helped to reaffirm that our business was applying all the same tools and ingredients to make a successful business. The HSBC executives’ presentations provided an excellent insight into the likely advancement of both the world and UK economy.

It was also extremely interesting to hear how HSBC is looking to differentiate itself from traditional banks by providing access to its network of world branches and associated customers that could be used to provide introductions to potential worldwide suppliers and customers. Our company will certainly be tapping into this resource to assist future growth potential.