Distillery uses social media to crack the Chinese market

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A North Yorkshire distillery is breaking into the Chinese market with its Downton Abbey branded gin and whisky.

Harrogate Tipple’s drinks are now selling in China online through the Great British Food Store on the country’s largest social media platform, WeChat.

The Great British Food Store set up by Business West, one of the UK’s largest Chambers of Commerce, is already selling 20 UK food and drink brands on WeChat which has a user base of 1.2 billion.

Steven Green, managing director of Harrogate Tipple, based at Ripley Village, said: “The story of a little company like ours – there are just four of us – going to China with our Downton Abbey branded gins and whisky is just fantastic for this area.”

James Monk, commercial director of Business West, said: “Lots of companies like Harrogate Tipple have recognised that China is a great sales opportunity for them.

“The rapidly expanding middle classes there are ripe as an audience for quality UK food and drink products.”

The Downton Abbey drinks have been shipped to China and re-labelled in Chinese by Elanders UK of North Tyneside, an international logistics group with 11 operations in China.

The gin and whisky are shipped to Elanders bonded warehouse in Shanghai. This enables Chinese customers to browse the WeChat store online and have orders sent to their homes within 24 hours.

Elanders managing director, Kevin Rogers said: “This cross-border e-commerce offers the simplest model for UK brands to sell to Chinese consumers and expand their export footprint.

“As the Chinese travel, they get a taste and palate for foreign goods, and they have a really good affinity with the UK.

“They see British products as having heritage and high quality. This initiative by Business West is right on the money because e-commerce in China is just insane. They buy everything online and WeChat is a very powerful tool.”

Monk added: “Getting into China is not one of the easiest of markets. We have taken apart the entire supply and transit chain to find a solution to make it viable for these smaller companies like Harrogate Tipple to enter trading with China.”