Pressures from the outbreak of COVID-19 saw sales for the company drop, thanks to the mass shutdown of pubs and restaurants – which typically accounted for 45% of its business.
However, with help from the Department of International Trade, Wicks Manor was able to ramp up its exports by 100% after securing deals with supermarkets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. These new deals build on its existing contracts with markets across the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
Owner Fergus Howie said the boost to international trade had provided a lifeline for the firm during the pandemic, with exports now accounting for 40% of its business since April – up from 20% prior.
“The importance of diversifying our sales across different markets has been laid bare during this difficult time,” he added. “We are now focused on maintaining export growth while preparing to return to supplying pubs and restaurants.
“We’re grateful to the Department for International Trade for the support they have provided in securing new routes-to-market, and I would certainly encourage other UK food producers to do the same.”
Apart from keeping the business afloat, trading outside the UK has allowed Wicks Manor to maintain all 45 members of staff and avoid food going to waste during the lockdown.
‘Appetite for British produce’
Commenting on the bacon processor’s success, international trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Even in these challenging times, businesses like Wicks Manor are showing that there is clear appetite for British produce around the world.
“Exporting will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus, and my department is committed to delivering greater export opportunities for UK businesses through new free trade agreements. Now, more than ever, we need UK businesses to follow in the footsteps of exporters like Wicks Manor and showcase their produce on the world stage.”
Meanwhile, food and drink exports bucked the wider downturn in UK international manufacturing sales caused by the coronavirus' impact, softening an overall decline from January to March 2020, according to Lloyds Bank International Trade Index.