Having attended the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco with the help of funding and support from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Churchill’s Confectionery has secured orders with four major retailers in the US, worth a combined £250,000.
The company is the name behind the iconic London bus and telephone kiosk shaped tins filled with sweets, chocolates, biscuits or tea. These novelty souvenirs make up 40 per cent of sales for this family-owned company. It has a packing unit in Borehamwood and all design work is carried out locally.
Churchill’s has a turnover of £4 million, a third of which comes from the UK, a third from airports and a third from export. Its top overseas markets are Europe (in particular Germany and Finland) and Asia (mainly Japan and Hong Kong).
Preparing for market entry
Churchill’s Confectionery has had a long-standing relationship with UKTI. Most recently:
- In February 2012 the company joined Gateway to Global Growth, the UKTI programme that helps experienced exporters expand into new markets and grow their business overseas. It participated in a number of the programme’s ‘Masterclasses’ and worked with an International Trade Adviser to develop its international strategy;
- In August 2013, while exhibiting in the UK pavilion at NY Now, a home, lifestyle and gifts tradeshow in New York, the company spoke to a UKTI Commercial Officer who offered advice about how to approach the US as a target market;
- In December 2013 the company commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) report to identify department store buyers and other retailers in the US who might be interested in stocking Churchill’s products; and
- In January 2014 it joined the UKTI stand at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. To help cover the costs of exhibiting, UKTI provided a £2,000 grant through its Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP).
“The TAP grant from UKTI was incredibly helpful,” says Laurence Montrognon, Export Sales Manager for Churchill’s Confectionery. “Shortly after the event, we received an order for 15,000 units from one of the buyers, working for Williams Sonoma. They plan to sell these in all their 250 stores across the US.”
Other orders from the US have followed, including from:
- Century 21, to stock in eight department stores in and around New York;
- Vermont Country Store (who had been listed in the OMIS), for two lines from Churchill’s range which will be included in 50,000 catalogues being sent all around the US; and
- Bloomingdales, for five lines to be stocked in the department stores around Christmas time.
Meanwhile, Churchill’s is now following up on new leads in Japan, having commissioned an OMIS for this market, received funding through the Export Market Research Scheme for a research trip and attended international food and drinks trade show, Foodex, in Tokyo with UKTI.
“Working with UKTI is a great way to do your homework about a market you want to target,” says Laurence. “They save you time and put you in touch with buyers who, I know from experience, are not easy to get to on your own.”