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UK Export Finance and Virgin Money support £750k boost for Scottish shortbread exports

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.

  • Dean’s of Huntly is a family-owned, premium shortbread manufacturer which has secured £750k new Virgin Money financing to help it bring Scottish shortbread to overseas markets.

  • Guaranteed by UK Export Finance, the financing helps Dean’s to meet seasonal spikes in demand for occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s and Chinese New Year.

  • New working capital also supports the firm’s plan to create up to 20 jobs as it expands its site in Aberdeenshire, where it invested in a second production unit in 2021.

UK Export Finance has worked with Virgin Money to secure a £750k financing package for Scottish premium shortbread manufacturer Dean’s of Huntly.

The family-owned business already exports to markets like Germany, USA, Australia, and China, selling both branded shortbread and own-brand products made for large overseas retailers.

Seasonal demand for its hand-baked shortbread means that the firm requires additional working capital to ramp up production in the run-up to Christmas, Mother’s Day, Chinese New Year and other seasonal events.

UK Export Finance helped to secure Virgin Money financing with a guarantee offered through its General Export Facility (GEF) product – this has helped UK exporters to access over £325 million in new working capital loans since its launch by UKEF in 2020. The agency can fast-track applications for financing facilities worth up to £10 million.

With the GEF funding first agreed in 2023, Dean’s has already been able to use the financing to make Christmas shipments, produce special-edition Year of the Dragon tins, and launch a new range of shortbread hearts to meet demand around Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday.

The new financing also supports the firm’s efforts to invest in new equipment and create up to 20 new posts.

Bill Dean, CEO at Dean’s of Huntly, said: 

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. 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 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.

Tim Reid, CEO at UK Export Finance, said:

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.

Craig Wilson, Head of FX Sales & Trade Finance at Virgin Money, said:

Dean’s of Huntly have been a Virgin Money customer for many years, and they are an inspiring business to work with given their success and export growth. We are proud of our strong relationship, but we don’t take it for granted and developed an innovative and tailored international solution to help Dean’s continue their successful trajectory. Virgin Money have a team of international experts available to support businesses in different sectors with the right products to help them navigate their international plans.

UK Export Finance has previously supported Scottish food and drink firms as varied as organic distillery Nc’nean and seafood exporter Denholm Seafoods.

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