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'You wouldn't believe how hard it is to sell a Peugeot to France'

Allied Vehicles, based in Glasgow's Possilpark, is one of the UK's largest manufacturers of special-purpose vehicles, producing and selling around 8000 taxis, mobility vehicles, mini-buses, ambulances and custody vans every year.

Founded in 1993, the £80 million-turnover firm reported a 20% growth in sales last year, a clear sign of a recovering UK economy, says managing director Paul Nelson, who has boosted the factory's staff from 370 to 440 in recent months.

Last October, the firm appointed an international development manager and has had "very helpful" assistance from SDI and UKTI. So why has it taken the company 20 years to start exporting? Couldn't it have grown quicker if it had started earlier? And will last week's Budget substantially accelerate these efforts?

Nelson says the new international development manager is part of an export drive. "We have just started putting demonstrator vehicles into European markets, including one with the largest Parisian taxi company, and wheelchair vehicles in Spain, Italy and France.

"We have in the past sold the odd vehicle abroad, including to New Zealand. The reason we have taken so long is that we have been building our share in the UK market to the position where we are by now the largest company of our sort outside London.

"There is also the fact that there are difficulties in exporting vehicles because each country has its own rules on top of Europe's. We have been working quite hard in Brussels to break those barriers down, but you wouldn't believe the difficulty we have in selling a Peugeot to France!

"The doubling of the Annual Investment Allowance in the Budget and the increase in export credit guarantees are no doubt useful, although we don't tend to use them.

"Like a lot of manufacturers we invest when we have to - in a £300,000 laser or a £60,000 break press, for example - not because there is an extra allowance, though I know firms which use these capital allowances in a more aggressive way."

He added that capping of the Carbon Price Support rate at £18 per tonne of CO2 from 2016-17 for the rest of the decade is useful in cutting energy costs.

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Automotive

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