The Rochdale-based supplier has increased its export operations eight-fold thanks to the cash injection, while sales on the whole have increased by 70% thanks to UK Government support at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forrest Fresh Foods used the funding to help pursue and fulfil ‘ambitious’ exporting contracts with Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia set to be target markets in 2022 and beyond. Export operations have increased from 3% of overall revenue in 2017 to over 25% in 2021.
High in demand
Managing director Chris Craven said: “Demand for our products has never been so high – and we’ve seen international interest in some of the UK’s most renowned brands rise over the last few years.
“The UKEF support has been a breath of fresh air in what has been a difficult 12 months to navigate, enabling us to sustain our buying power and continue to price products competitively for our customers.”
Forrest Fresh Foods Ltd now turns over in excess of £60m per year, with more revenue streams to be unlocked in different markets in the next 12 months. The business is planning to increase its headcount by 27% in 2022, as a result of UKEF support bolstering job prospects in the region.
The GEF was first available to UK businesses in March 2021 to support exporters through the pandemic. It was designed to provide exporting SMEs access to working capital support to make UKEF’s support more flexible and accessible. More than £120mn worth of loans have been issued in the first nine months.
Mike Freer MP, minister for exports, added: “There’s a world of opportunity for UK exporters, and global demand for Britain’s best-loved food and drink brands continues to grow at an impressive pace.
“UKEF is committed to helping UK business such as Forrest Fresh Foods to seize this demand, as we aim to reach £1 trillion in exports annually.”
Meanwhile, drinks firm Dash has completed a £7m funding round as it announces the appointment of current St Pierre Group chief executive David Milner as its new chairman.