Brexit upside for food exporter The London Deli Company

The vote to leave the European Union is helping open international doors for a food manufacturer as interest in all things British has been piqued by Brexit.

The London Deli Company.
The London Deli Company.

The London Deli Company is aiming to grow its exports by 30 per cent in the next year after experiencing growth in international markets.

Craig Benton, inset, managing director of the York-based company, said it is the perfect time for businesses such as his to embrace their British identity.

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He said the reason this was the perfect time to embrace its British identity was “because of Brexit”.

Craig Benton

Mr Benton added: “We’re in the news. A lot of big companies are all steering towards the British branding.”

The London Deli Company employs 10 staff and is headquartered in York. Its products include premium crisps, chocolates, biscuits and jams.

The business counts the royal family, British Airways and Harrods amongst its customers.

“If we can create a premium British brand, working with a local workforce, we can take overseas and Southern money and farm it back into the North and turn 12-hour shifts into 24-hour shifts,” Mr Benton said.

The London Deli Company doesn’t deal much with Europe but supplies its products to distributors and retailers in the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Australia and across the Middle East.

Mr Benton said: “I don’t do much business within Europe. It’s more further afield. We find it’s much better to trade with them at the moment because of the exchange rate. It works a lot better for the other party so therefore we’ve had a lot more traction.”

British brands are much sought after abroad, he says, as they are perceived to provide good quality.

“Especially in the Middle East and America, anything that is from the UK commands a premium price tag and is known for a job being done well,” Mr Benton said. “When you speak to distributors they really home in on British products as well for quality.”

It’s a trait that could help businesses reliant on exports to the European Union post-Brexit, he added.

The London Deli Company was established in 2011. Mr Benton also owns a business called The Yorkshire Deli Company.

However, when he was setting up the business the Yorkshire name wasn’t as recognisable across international waters as London.

He said: “It’s very much different now. Now Yorkshire is more of a global brand and a lot of people understand it.

“For instance, Yorkshire Gold Tea is one of the biggest sellers in Australia.”

Mr Benton says exporting isn’t without complexities but that shouldn’t stop Yorkshire firms from looking to expand their horizons.

He said: “Language barriers, logistics and international law each presented challenges for us, but with support from organisations like DIT and Defra we’ve managed to overcome these and successfully grow our exports.

“There isn’t anything stopping other Yorkshire producers, whether they’ve just launched or are long established, from selling overseas too. Carefully researching markets and doing the due diligence on buyers are the key starting points for success.”

Export help

The firm has received export support from International Trade Advisers (ITAs) as part of the Food is GREAT campaign, a cross-departmental initiative between the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Department for International Trade (DIT).

Mark Robson, head of Yorkshire at DIT, said: “The international mindset of firms like The London Deli Company has led to exports of Yorkshire and the Humber food and drink products rising 4.6 per cent to £1.17bn in the year to September 2018.”