Creme d’Or sweeten the deal overseas

When Crème d’Or wanted to export their Happy Jackson confectionary range, they meant business. By hiring an Export Manager and approaching the Department for International Trade for advice and financial support, Crème d’Or has seen their exports increase dramatically in just two years.

After distributing premium chocolates and confectionary to UK suppliers for nearly 30 years, Tickton-based company Crème d’Or has a strong relationship with the local market. But aside from accidental exports, they were yet to discover the benefits of international trade. By bringing in Laura Gunderson as their Export Manager, Crème d’Or could develop their client base and begin actively sourcing opportunities across the world.

Upon joining the company, Laura soon approached the Department for International Trade (DIT). With the help of Sharon Stathers, their International Trade Adviser, Crème d’Or created an export plan to help determine which markets were worth attempting. “It would be very easy to waste a lot of time because the world is a very big place – you can lose a lot of time and resources if you don’t have a plan,” Laura explains. Having an export plan can help businesses focus on markets where there are higher chances of success. In Crème d’Or’s case, this proved valuable. For most first-time exporters, Europe can be an easy-access route, but for Crème d’Or they felt the market was too competitive for their product. Instead, they chose to look further afield, in a search that took Crème d’Or further than they imagined.

“I came back from Gulfood and within a week I had orders in my inbox.”

Laura Gunderson, Export Manager

In 2016, DIT invited Crème d’Or on a Northern Powerhouse trade mission to Dubai to attend Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food event, showcasing suppliers to 95,000 visitors.
As well as being part of the exhibition, Laura spoke to potential customers, visited their stores, and learnt more about the confectionery market in the Gulf. “I was introduced to some good contacts, it was a really well put together agenda and had excellent networking opportunities,” Laura tells us. “Far and away the best mission I’ve been on.”

The trip proved to be a fantastic success, as Laura returned to the UK with two supermarket customers. While DIT continues to provide assistance, Laura recommends that fellow businesses be prepared to put in the work before travelling overseas. Ahead of her trip, Laura contacted potential customers to establish a relationship. “I had sent out product information and samples beforehand and then when I was in the market, I got to meet the buyers,” she explains. By having these conversations ahead of her trip, Laura found it much easier to secure their orders. This proactive approach can significantly enhance the opportunities available to businesses on trade missions. For example, as part of the Gulfood mission, the companies were invited to visit the Emirates Airlines facilities and upon her return, Laura worked to land a contract to deliver seasonal goodie bags for passengers. This hard work paid off, resulting in a substantial amount of business and a repeat order the following year.

By focusing their efforts on exporting with a designated Export Manager and making the most of DIT’s support, Crème d’Or has exceeded their expectations. “At the end of year one, we finished ahead of where we wanted to be, and at the end of this year, we’re going to have doubled those numbers.”

DIT provides advice and support for businesses, as well as access to funding to develop exporting ambitions. When Crème d’Or wanted to explore opportunities in Asia, they applied for a grant from Exporting for Growth, a programme that provides funding and support towards flights, accommodation, event entry and more. This funding allowed them to travel to Hong Kong to exhibit at Hofex; Asia’s Food and Hospitality Trade Show, as well as travel to Singapore, to meet with prospective clients. Just a few days later, Laura returned home with a significant order from a large supermarket chain, she says, “The trip to Singapore was incredibly successful, we came back with a really big customer. Happy days!” Without the Exporting for Growth funding, Laura believes it’s unlikely the trip would’ve gone ahead and would’ve meant missed opportunities for Crème d’Or.

in 2017, Crème d’Or was hiring two additional staff members to help cope with the demands created by exporting. Laura explains that Christmas orders are now starting several months earlier to include shipping time, meaning the company is busier than ever. They’re also considering hiring a second Export Manager to help Laura further develop their international trade. “All the support we receive, we’re really grateful for. It’s helping us grow,” she says.

Crème d’Or is committed to exporting, and after just two years they were shortlisted for the Food and Drink Federation Awards as Exporter of the Year 2017, a result that delights Laura and the Crème d’Or team. With exports now accounting for 16% of their turnover, it’s clear Crème d’Or has a bright exporting future ahead of them; one that Laura and the DIT team look forward to developing together.