Grasmere Gingerbread® can trace its history back to 1854, when Sarah Nelson first baked her spicy-chewy concoction at her cottage home.
Today it’s a ‘must-have’ delicacy for visitors to the Lake District, and supports a thriving business employing 16 people.
Joanne Hunter, who runs Grasmere Gingerbread with her husband Andrew, is the third generation of her family to be involved.
Their daughter Yasmine works there too.
Less-well recognised, perhaps, is the buoyant mail order side to the business through the Grasmere Gingerbread website.
Mail order manager Harrison Ward said: “If it has a postcode we’ll ship Grasmere Gingerbread there.
“Between 8% and 10% of our mail order sales are exports now. The export side has grown strongly. We’ve exported more in the last three months than we did between 2000 and 2007 put together.
“The US is our largest market followed by Australia, Japan, Canada and Europe. But now we’re also selling to China, India and the Middle East.”
Last year Harrison attended an Export Documentation and Processing workshop run by Chamber Business Solutions.
The full-day event was led by Tony Brown, an International Trade Adviser with the Department for International Trade.
Harrison said: “As a business we’ve exported for many years but it was new to me when I joined 14 months ago. I’d been working in hospitality and have a degree in business, but hadn’t had experience of exports.
“By the time I went on the course I’d been here 10 months, so it was more of a refresher to complement the knowledge that I’d picked up on the job.
“We’re in the B2C market rather than B2B, and I knew that some elements of the workshop were geared to B2B businesses.
“That said, there was a lot I found very useful – the country profiles, customer sticking points, making sense of all the paper work, information about duties and taxes. There were things I wasn’t aware of.
“The tutor, Tony Brown, had worked in the field at a high level and was a good contact to make.”
He added: “The workshop enabled me to be more accurate.
“It speeded-up paperwork and prevented customs delays, which we might have experienced before.
“Grasmere Gingerbread is an ambient product but has a relatively short shelf life. We need to get it to customers as quickly as possible.
“Even to Australia, we aim to get the product there in four to five days, so the last thing we want is unnecessary delays.”
Exporting can be complex, which is why Chamber Business Solutions – the Chamber’s training arm – began running the Documentation and Processing workshops in partnership with the Department for International Trade.
Catherynn Dunstan, Business Solutions Manager, said: “85% of companies say exporting has led to a level of growth not otherwise possible. Trading abroad can boost your profile, credibility and bottom line.
“Apart from increasing sales and revenue, it also allows you to diversify your markets so you are no longer dependent on one market for your success.
“But exporting demands timely and accurate attention to documentation.
“Mistakes can cause substantial delays and expense and do not enhance your customer’s experience.
“We set up these workshops to help businesses through the process.
“They cover all the essentials – what documentation is needed, what needs to be done with it, how long it needs to be kept – and they examine the processes that keep your organisation running smoothly.
“They’re designed for those who have to produce or check the procedures and documentation. Those attending are encouraged to bring problems and queries on any aspect of international trade.”
Topics covered include:
- Export documentation – commercial, transport, legal and customs
- Cargo insurance
- Certificates of Origin
- Export licensing
- VAT and duty
- International payment methods
- Exchange rate protection
- Letters of credit
- Bills of landing
- Exchange rate protection