Global appetite for British food means export success for Bristol business

Author
Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
8th January 2021

Established 21 years ago by a couple in their garage, British Corner Shop, was originally set up as a small mail order company sending British food and drink across the world. 

Under the leadership of Managing Director, Mark Callaghan, the company’s revenue has increased by 150% in the last three years. 

The business has been working closely with The Department for International Trade (DIT) to increase its exports and has achieved significant growth in several markets. In the USA, its export turnover reached £4m in 2020 alone, an increase of 146% from the previous year. It is also experiencing an increase in sales in Europe with sales growing in Italy by 90% in the last year and 112% in France.  

The business has two facets; a direct-to-consumer website covering nearly 150 countries and a business-to-business aspect which involves selling to small and large distributors overseas such as supermarkets or corner shops. 

“A typical direct-to-consumer order from overseas is probably about £80, but during Christmas time it’s about £200-£300,” says Ben White, Key Relationship Director for British Corner Shop. 

“A couple of years ago it was 95% expats buying our products.  There’s now a greater number of native people who have found out about British products and can’t find them locally.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the company’s sales from the direct-to-consumer part of the business, and according to Ben, has nearly quadrupled its revenue on a month-to-month basis.

“Peter Norris, our DIT International Trade Adviser, has been exceptional. We can email him, pick up the phone and if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll know someone who does.”

“DIT is fantastic and there are some extremely knowledgeable market specialists who we can speak to about exporting to markets like the USA and Asia. 

“We have also taken part in training and have been asked to be guest speakers at several events, which has really helped to cement our knowledge.

“Whilst we have a lot of experience in our field, there’s always something we don’t know and DIT are always on hand if we need to check anything.”

When asked about the advice he would give to exporters looking to expand their business abroad, Ben said:

“It takes time to succeed in exports, so one of my biggest tips is patience. Exporting is great because it helps your product to grow in countries you had never considered before. DIT has been invaluable in supporting us in identifying new clients.

“The first port of call is to speak to DIT. The moment you want to go overseas, get an International Trade Adviser who will support you on your journey.”

Ben White is a DIT Export Champion dedicated to inspiring and encouraging other businesses to grow through overseas trade.

For further information on DIT’s exporting support and international opportunities, visit www.great.gov.uk

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