A whirlwind tour of Asia has opened my eyes to the overseas opportunities sat in front of NorthEdge’s portfolio companies. Each of our investments may be led from and headquartered in the North of England, but they all have their own story to tell when it comes to the business potential to be delivered through engagement in overseas markets.
As I drove across the farmlands of the Punjab in Pakistan, the benefits delivered by companies like Fine Industries with respect to advances in agri-chemicals and crop protection were uppermost in my mind. It is literally a matter of life and death in emerging economies that harvests and yields are not only protected, but increased. Pakistan’s population has just gone through the 200 million mark and the growth shows no signs of slowing. Malthus may be dead, but the imperatives of food and water security are alive and kicking – firms like Fine and its customers are an intrinsic part of the solution to a developing global issue.
On to Mumbai, where increased affluence and the mingling of Western tastes with Eastern cuisine has caused an explosion in the demand for sugar and its by-products. To help meet part of this demand, FPE Global established links in the Indian market several years ago. The firm has significant and successful customers across India and has developed considerable credentials for its service and expertise levels. As a significant exporter and services-provider to multiple regions and one who operates to Transparency International standards, the world is FPE’s oyster, with sugar on top.
Fleeting visits to those 21st Century City-States, Dubai and Hong Kong, tend to offer a glimpse of the future. And the future might be bright, but it’s no longer orange. The future’s Apple. Firmly established as the preeminent consumer brand of our time, a visit to the Middle and Far East convinces that Apple’s assault on the business enterprise market is well and truly underway. In the backyard of the technology titans of Asia, it is evident that more and more businesses are opting to go Mac. And if the early adopters of Asia are leading the way, the momentum in the domestic UK market behind an Apple partner like Jigsaw24 should become overwhelming.
So I hear you ask, how’s he going to link Help-Link, Yorkshire’s and the UK’s leading independent boiler installation business, with the final destination, the People’s Republic of China? Energy efficiency and environmental initiatives, that’s how. Let me tell you, China might be the future, but it’s not so bright in Beijing or Shanghai. Sat on the 80th floor of a futuristic skyscraper, what almost literally hit me last week was the smog. China’s leadership is well aware of the challenges it faces from the twin paradoxes of energy security and environmental pollution. Not enough energy to feed an export behemoth and a billion people – short-time working in Guangdong is an almost permanent feature of the industrial landscape – yet industrial smog in the metropolises that makes you think you’re back in a British Edwardian pea-souper. The new leadership recognises this challenge and the new Plan embraces energy efficiency and environmental controls. And if China ‘gets’ it, you can bet your bottom Remnimbi that regulation will continue to drive the British market forward in a manner that benefits a leader like Help-Link.
NorthEdge may be invested in the North, but we are in no way parochial and our portfolio businesses are riding market waves that are often generated a long way from our shores. We actively seek to invest in businesses with an international dimension and that we can scale and that means being aware of global trends and how our portfolio might take advantage of them. Whether it’s export champions like FPE and Fine selling their products and expertise across the world, or businesses more rooted in our domestic market yet ready to capitalise on global trends, like Jigsaw24 or Help-Link, we at NorthEdge believe our portfolio is well-placed to take on the world. And a trip to Asia brings this home.