Cheese and chutney, whiskey and wine – behind every gift there is a long line of businesses and craftsmen. Suppliers all over the world know that Christmas brings a surge in demand, more so than ever when presents are a click away.
Since the Victorians first brought about traditions like Christmas cards, crackers and a turkey dinner, Britain has been famed as a beacon of festive cheer.
But in today’s globalised world, British businesses with the edge in quality have to contend with new market barriers and competitors who trade on cost alone.
Year after year, UK Export Finance (UKEF) has helped British firms secure the financing and insurance which allows them to reach new markets and fill new stockings around the world.
UKEF is the government body helping British exporters secure financing when the private sector might not be able to – a problem sometimes faced by the fledgling businesses which will become tomorrow’s big employers.
In the last financial year, UKEF helped businesses access £6.5 billion in financing and create over 55,000 jobs across the country – running at no net cost to the taxpayer.
These are some of the gifts which UKEF has helped Father Christmas deliver in time for Christmas:
Have Yourself a Dairy Little Christmas: from Somerset to South Africa
Third-generation family-owned cheese producer Wyke Farms exports around 6,000 tonnes of cheddar each year. The Somerset business faced tough market conditions as inflation sent the price of milk skyrocketing. To help them deal with this shock at a time when private lenders were cautious, UKEF’s worked with Barclays to arrange a £30 million financing package to help the business continue growing.
Wyke Farms has since consolidated its hold on Europe, where it has traded for 25 years and seen a growing taste for solid British cheese. Families in at least some of the 160 countries where Wyke cheese is sold will be tucking into this Somerset export for tea.
A Nightcap for Father Christmas: Scottish Whisky
Accept no imitations: whisky may be made around the world, but it is still synonymous with the British Isles. Anglophiles around the world who have read their Ian Fleming will know that whatever the films say, James Bond tends to reach for a scotch rather than a Martini.
UKEF is helping distilleries to meet the steady global demand for whisky. Last month, it helped Nc’nean Distillery – a maker of sustainable, organic whisky – secure new export finance from Virgin Money to help it grow in North America. Just six years after it began distilling, the firm is filling glasses for Christmas toasts across the Atlantic.
The Night before Christmas: Beds from Yorkshire
Based in Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Jay-Be designs and makes beds and mattresses in the UK. Already a supplier to high street names like John Lewis, Bensons for Beds and Next, Jay-Be began exporting in 2012 and now serves customers in more than 15 countries.
With UKEF helping Jay-Be to secure a £2.5 million funding from Santander UK, the firm can ramp up its global sales and bring sweet dreams to more people than ever before – even if they can’t wait for Christmas morning.
Tim Reid, CEO of UK Export Finance, commented: “The support which we provide to hundreds of companies each year helps exporters to meet international demand for brilliant UK products – a demand which only grows in the run-up to Christmas.
“As over 80% of the businesses which we support are SMEs, our backing helps to ensure that smaller businesses can send their products around the world in time for the holidays.”