Candle and fragrance company Essence of Harris is expecting to see its Christmas sales increase by up to 40% on last season’s after a year of significant business growth.
The Tarbert firm attributes this year’s anticipated spike in revenue to the ongoing expansion of its UK-based retail network, coupled with the growing strength of its brand, both at home and overseas.
Over the last 12 months, the company has more than doubled the number of UK retail outlets it supplies, expanding from 49 stores to 107.
The business has also launched two new collections of hand-poured candles and reed diffusers – its ‘Auras’ and ‘Elements’ collections - along with a new range of accessories made using its own ‘Essence of Harris’ tartan.
Since last Christmas, Essence of Harris has hired five new employees, bringing its total headcount to 14.
In May the business expanded into a vacant 500 square meter factory unit in Tarbert, owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), into a high-quality production facility and headquarters. This new space boosted the company’s production capacity by 60%.
The firm’s relocation was supported by a five-figure overdraft facility from Bank of Scotland, which helped the business fully renovate the building.
Bank of Scotland also helped Essence of Harris develop a growth plan to help it secure a five-figure grant from HIE to further support the factory’s renovations.
In a bid to grow its export sales – which currently make-up 15% of the business’ annual turnover – Essence of Harris has recently entered into discussions with potential new partners in France and the Netherlands, as well as representatives from global airport retail chain World Duty Free.
Essence of Harris currently exports its products to retailers in the US, Germany and Thailand, as well as selling to customers around the world through its website.
To help identify further export opportunities, the business has been working with the Bank of Scotland through its International Trade Portal, which offers details of potential overseas markets and essential market information.
Jamie McGowan, director, Essence of Harris, said: “The Christmas season is a big one for our business. We usually start to see a spike in demand in October, and festive sales usually make-up more than a quarter of our annual turnover.
“We’re expecting this year’s sales to be particularly strong, thanks to our growing customer base in the UK and beyond, coupled with the new product lines we have developed.
“One part of our recent success is down to our new larger premises in Tarbert, which Bank of Scotland helped us to renovate. We had loads of great ideas for how we could develop the business, but just didn’t have the space to pursue them. We’re now set to release even more new products, including our own liquid hand soaps and scent sachets.
“Looking beyond the Christmas period, we’re hoping to open our third UK store in Aberdeen Airport this April and we’ll be continuing to target more growth overseas, particularly in the US market.
“Creating career opportunities for young people here in Scotland is also a big part of what we aim to do, and over the next year we’re hoping to create five new roles in our team. All of this is possible thanks to the support we’ve had from our partners and our community.”
Lindsay MacLeod, relationship manager, Bank of Scotland, said: “Essence of Harris has worked hard to make the most of every opportunity for growth presented to them, both here in the UK, and overseas.
“The nature of the firm’s products make them perfect for gifts, and so Christmas is a particularly busy time. This Christmas is the first Essence of Harris will spend in its new factory in Tarbert, and its increased space has not only enabled it to expand its product range, but will also help it better handle periods of increased demand.
“Navigating the busy festive season can come with its own set of challenges for small businesses, particularly around issues such as cash flow. Helping Scottish firms like Essence of Harris make the most of these peak trading periods through expert advice and funding is all part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper.”
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