Western Isles distiller hit by Covid fallout nets funding boost to think global

A Western Isles distiller has been given a six-figure boost to help weather the pandemic and refocus efforts on international growth.

The additional financial liquidity will help Isle of Harris Distillers – maker of Isle of Harris Gin – accelerate plans to increase its presence in Europe and Canada, and expand into Asia and the US from its base in the Outer Hebrides. Picture: Laurence Winram Photography

The additional financial liquidity will help Isle of Harris Distillers – maker of Isle of Harris Gin – accelerate plans to increase its presence in Europe and Canada, and expand into Asia and the US from its base in the Outer Hebrides.

The drinks venture saw a 50 per cent jump in online orders during lockdown. However, the overnight closure of bars, restaurants and its visitor centre has impacted its cashflow.

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The £750,000 in funding, provided via a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) from HSBC UK, will also help the distillery to invest in the production of its first single malt whisky.

Chairman Ron MacEachran said: “We suddenly lost sales from our visitor centre and our business with the hospitality industry when Covid-19 hit, but HSBC UK’s backing has given us additional fire power and flex to navigate our way through the extraordinary levels of uncertainty we have seen since the start of this pandemic.

“We’ve got positive plans to increase our exports and will be investing in additional warehouses to mature our whisky. The additional liquidity has also allowed us to continue with our plans for growth.”

Neal Tully, relationship director at HSBC UK, added: “Isle of Harris Distillery is a fantastic example of a Scottish business that has responded swiftly in response to a rapid change in customer demand.

“We have worked with the distillery as it has gone from strength to strength over the years, so we were pleased to support the business as it adapted to a challenging time.”

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