Scottish shortbread manufacturer secures £750k to help drive exports

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Pictured right, top: A tin of Dean’s shortbread designed to mark the earlier Lunar New Year in export markets
Pictured right, top: A tin of Dean’s shortbread designed to mark the earlier Lunar New Year in export markets

Related tags Investment Trade

Dean’s of Huntly is using trade finance provided by Virgin Money and guaranteed by UK Export Finance to meet overseas demand as far afield as Australia and China.

The family-own manufacturer already exports branded and own brand premium shortbread to overseas markets, including Germany, the US, Australia and China.

But with occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day and Chinese New Year driving seasonal spikes, the company needed additional capital to deliver to demand.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) helped Dean’s of Huntly to secure Virgin Money financing with a guarantee offered through its General Export Facility (GEF) product. This has so far helped UK exporters to access more than £325m in new working capital loans since its launch in 2020.

GEF funding was agreed in 2023 and Dean’s has since been able to ramp up its production to make seasonal shipments and produce special-edition tins (such as the one pictured above).

“The GEF facility has helped us manage the working capital implications of large export orders. With the time it takes to ship the products, it can take 3-4 months to get payment from when the shortbread was made and shipped,”​ explained the shortbread producer’s CEO, Bill Dean.

He continued: “The functionality of GEF is in being able to drawdown what we need when we need it, and then pay it all back when we don’t need it. It has enabled us to pursue more customers in the US as well as expand in the Far East and Europe.”

The new financing also supports Dean’s ambitions to invest in new equipment and create new roles at the firm (up to 20 jobs).

“The flexibility of what you can use the GEF for means we can use it to fund overseas sales, but also take on new people and invest in new equipment to improve processes and reduce environmental impact as well,” ​Dean added.

Tim Reid, CEO at UKEF, added: “Dean’s has a distinctly Scottish product which is much loved around the world, and our support is helping them to enjoy continued export success. The overwhelming majority of UKEF’s deals support smaller businesses like Dean’s, ensuring that entrepreneurs from all over the country can benefit from international trade.”

UKEF has previously supported Scottish food and drink firms, including organic distillery Nc’nean and seafood exporter Denholm Seafoods, with the export credit agency able to fast-track applications for financing facilities worth up to £10m.

The agency recently outlined its latest ambitions for supporting UK exporters in its 2024-29 Business Plan, including a commitment to help companies across the United Kingdom win more than £12.5bn in new contracts by 2029.

In collaboration with the Department for Business and Trade, British Business Bank and local Chambers of Commerce, UKEF has also set out ambitions to support 1,000 SMEs per annum in the next five years.

Related topics Supply Chain Bakery Operations

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