Online orders double at Herefordshire small business

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A small drinks company based out of a Herefordshire farm has adapted its business model in response to new challenges.

Recent Barclays research found one in seven people had never visited a farm shop prior to the pandemic, but now visit regularly. It discovered that two-thirds of consumers now look for more home-grown and seasonal produce as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

One business, White Heron, a drinks offshoot of Whittern Farms in Herefordshire, has been thriving off the behaviour change. White Heron produces a British Cassis from the farm’s blackcurrants, as well as British Framboise and its own Whittern Pink Gin. It saw online orders double over the course of 2020 as more and more shoppers look for quality homegrown produce.

“As physically going to shops is still a no-no, all our online outlets have been inundated with orders, so it’s been all hands-on deck,” says Jo Hilditch, MD of White Heron. “The warehouse has been so busy that many of my days have been spent bottling and packaging. It’s good to see how the work is at the coalface!

“Post-Brexit, it will be more important than ever to focus on our USP as a locally sourced, homegrown business in our marketing and to produce quality products with our own locally grown fruit. We’ll need to keep a close eye on costs and not get carried away with expansion plans that may be difficult and costly to execute.

“It’s encouraging that consumers are looking for more ways to shop locally and buy British produce, so we’ll continue to make the most of this growing demand.”

Craig Horne, Barclays Business Banking Area Manager for Herefordshire said “We stand behind UK businesses and are always looking for new ways to provide help and support to entrepreneurs, business owners and sole traders across the country. We have introduced a range of measures to support SMEs during this time. Barclays has facilitated over £25 billion into the economy through Government lending schemes, delivering vital aid to businesses during the pandemic.”

Barclays offers support to SMEs across the country and has a network of 1,500 relationship managers, who work closely with small business owners to keep them informed of the latest industry insights and help them to achieve their financial ambitions.