Dec 2 2011 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
A COMPANY that has sent Tunnocks tea cakes to Senegal, haggis to Manila and clootie dumpling to Scots troops in Afghanistan has seen a 30 per cent increase in like-for-like sales as a result of launching its new website.
The site – www.scottishfoodoverseas.com – which has been helped by Business Gateway Stirling, sells seasonal hampers packed by hand in Balfron to ex-pats and Scottish food lovers across the globe.
The business, which has taken on eight seasonal staff, has sold 1000 hampers in just five weeks following the launch of a more customer focused website in October.
Lee Rooney, owner of parent company Endrick Trading Ltd, believes the new site will generate 3000 hamper sales by the end of January – an increase of 50 per cent for the same period last year – with hampers being sent to more than 40 countries.
He said: “Although the majority of our sales are delivered to people in the UK around 30 per cent go overseas to America, Canada, even Kazakhstan.
“Scotland produces some of the finest food in the world and it’s not just ex-pats who buy our hampers, it’s people who realise the best place to get smoked salmon, shortbread, whisky ... is Scotland. Last year we sold three tonnes of haggis and this year we are on schedule to sell four. We even managed to get a vegetarian haggis into America for Craig Ferguson and that was no easy task!
“E-commerce is an amazing way to do business but you need to have the right site and product to generate interest.
“Thanks to the guidance of our Business Gateway adviser we managed to secure funding to overhaul the old site and its sister site – www.diabetichampers.co.uk.
“We were also given access to an e-commerce expert who guided us through the whole process, from procurement to the actual design. The free advice has already paid dividends.”
Caroline Brown, Business Gateway Stirling business adviser, said: “Business Gateway isn’t just here to help entrepreneurs start a new venture, it is here to provide specialist advice to established companies looking to fulfil their growth potential.
“Lee’s business, although operating 12 months of the year, is busiest during the festive season. By using our services he has ensured that his websites are user friendly, easy to navigate and provide customers with greater flexibility – especially when making a bespoke hamper.
“By creating jobs – and selling produce made in Scotland – he is also helping to support both the local and wider economy.”
Lee, a former television assistant director who worked on shows such as Taggart and Casualty, entered the world of e-commerce five years ago, launching a cigarette bin site, www.bins-direct.co.uk, just before the Scottish smoking ban.
The move was only meant to be temporary but the site’s success spurred him on, and now the 42-year-old runs nine websites.
He said: “Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to run a website, never mind nine, from a rural village like Balfron.
“The internet has opened up so many possibilities not just for the consumer but for the business community as it provides 24/7, 365 days of trading worldwide.
“When I first started out I went to Business Gateway for advice and have continued, over the years, to attend a number of courses which have help keep me up to date with changes in the world of business and e-commerce.
“I’ve ambitious plans for the hamper websites and now, with our adviser’s assistance, we are accessing support that will help us generate more hits, more interest and allow us to support both large and artisan Scottish food producers by selling and promoting their produce around the world.”
For more information on Business Gateway visit www.bgateway.com or call 0845 609 6611 or the local office directly on (01786) 463416.