North Uist Distillery reflects on Brexit changes

Learning from past experiences and accessing Business Gateway’s online resources has been crucial to help North Uist Distillery understand the changes caused by leaving the EU.

11th February 2021

North Uist Distillery supplies a range of premium Scottish gins to customers across the UK and abroad and, although being a small business that operates predominantly across the UK, leaving the EU has still brought certain challenges to the Hebridean based gin producer.

The business, which imports glass gin bottles from EU suppliers, anticipated price fluctuations once the transition period ended. To address this, co-founder and head distiller, Jonny Ingledew took the tactical approach of expanding his previous orders before costs increased.

North Uist Distillery launched its first gin in 2019 and the current business strategy is predominantly concentrated on servicing their range of domestic clients across Scotland and the wider UK. For Jonny and the team, this is the priority before they expand into global markets, including the EU.

Jonny said: “Given where we are in our business journey, importing and exporting are not critical elements of our growth strategy, and we are instead focused on expanding further in the UK market. As such, we are not feeling the extensive impacts and price changes other distillers are experiencing.”

When it comes to tackling higher volumes of administrative requirements brought on by leaving the EU, Jonny and his team feel confident they can handle the possibility of increased paperwork and certificates. The team has already gained experience exporting to countries that are based within and beyond the EU, in countries such as Germany and Switzerland.

In adapting to the changes brought on by the end of the transition period, Jonny carried out research on what grant opportunities might be appropriate for North Uist Distillery. He has taken advantage of various online resources from the Business Gateway website, as well as taking part in a number of webinars run by the service.

Jonny said: “As an island-based business our operational costs are much higher than if we were based on the mainland, and in the past, we have taken advantage of EU grant schemes to help support our business growth. However, with these funding sources coming to an end we have been focussing our energy on finding new opportunities to access funding to support us in our business journey.”

No matter the size of the business and regions which they operate in, the challenges and adjustments needed to prepare for the impacts of leaving the EU will be something many businesses across Scotland are experiencing. While the full impact on North Uist Distillery is still largely unknown, with a positive outlook, a strong team and a range of exporting experience, the business is in a strong place to continue to grow and expand their products across the UK and beyond.

For up-to-date advice and information about operating after Brexit, please visit /operate-after-brexit

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