Pickering's Gin was founded less than two years ago making it the first gin distillery in Edinburgh for over 150 years and already the firm is actively exporting across the globe. BQ caught up with the team ahead of the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2016 to see how they made it happen.
What is it the company does?
Pickering’s Gin, is Edinburgh’s first exclusive gin distillery for over 150 years was launched in the heart of the capital on 27 March 2014. The premium gin is distilled, bottled, labelled and sold at Summerhall Distillery.
Pickering’s gin is based on an original recipe, handwritten on a fragment of paper dated 17 July 1947, and has been fine-tuned, perfecting its balance and tweaking it for today’s contemporary palate.
The beautifully crafted small batch gin contains 9 botanicals including juniper, coriander, cardamom and fennel.
How long has the company been exporting?
In 2015, Pickering’s Gin began exporting, and the first shipments were exported and distributed to Central European countries of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxemburg and Netherlands.
What do you currently export, and where to?
All 3 varieties of Pickering’s gin are exported - Pickering’s Gin (42%), Pickering’s 1947 and Navy Strength.
We currently export to Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, New Zealand
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Pickering’s Gin, with the support of SDI and Scottish Enterprise, identified key export markets of Hong Kong, Canada and Central Europe and spent the a few months exploring these markets further.
Marcus Pickering, co-founder alongside Matt Gammell of Pickering’s Gin, said “We are delighted that we are exporting Pickering’s Gin to some of the key global gin markets. It is testament to the quality of our products that there has been such an interest and demand for our premium gins.”
What is the easiest part of exporting?
Generating interest and demand in the market. With the markets that we have visited, a very important part of the trip is speaking to and seeing the best bars, hotels and trade outlets in the country.
Getting them to taste it is hugely beneficial as it allows us to demonstrate a demand in the market for us to show to potential importers.
And the most challenging part?
Getting the product to the market! With the legal red tape and customs requirements subtly different for each market, there are a lot of pitfalls that we have to be aware of and actively work to avoid falling into.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
You have to be aware of the culture you are going into. Business meetings conducted in the middle east entirely different to the USA which is different to Asia. Knowing what to expect (and not offending anyone) is really important.
We have been lucky enough to have people that speak the local language with us on our trade missions, whether through our own contacts or the UK government, so language and culture have been taken care of in advance.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
We have had some support from both Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise with our export projects.
We have also been put in touch with the GlobalSoct network which has helped us with setting meetings and suggesting people to meet with.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Do your research and meet everyone you intend to do business with. Even if you have to visit them in their country, the expense is worth it.
You will have a much better working relationship with them if you have actually met them and looked them in the eye rather than doing everything via phone and email.
Not really. We want to do more!
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
The next market on our target list is the USA. We got some awesome plans for some specific regions there.
We are also visiting Australia and New Zealand again along with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in February 2016, which should be fun!
Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the HSBC Scottish Export Awards are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.