Milking Their Export Potential

Lye Cross Farm is the brand name of the Alvis family who have been making the finest Farmhouse Cheeses since 1952. Based in Somerset, the Farm is only a few miles from the village of Cheddar.

Historically, sales were from UK-based customers however, a few years ago, the business began to receive increasing enquiries from overseas. “Our first export enquiry came from the Canary Islands”, explained Tim Harrap, Lye Cross Farm’s Head of Collaboration. Realising the opportunity to develop the business and spread their risk, a target was set for export to reach 30% of the business revenue.

At this time, Lye Cross Farm connected with Sue Tisdall, an International Trade Advisor working with UKTI to support Small and Medium Enterprises to develop export business. “With Sue’s support, our export sales have continued to grow”, enthused Tim. By the end of 2013, Lye Cross Farm cheeses were sold to over 30 different export countries, amounting to almost 25% of turnover.

“Like many businesses, we had developed a range of marketing communications throughout the years. We knew many of these could be improved and felt it was time for a thorough review”, Tim explained. Having worked with UKTI in a previous role, Tim was aware of UKTI’s Export Communications Review (ECR).The ECR provides practical, impartial and straightforward advice to help companies improve their communications with overseas markets. Each Export Communications Review is conducted by a communications expert and is tailored to the company’s individual requirements. “We wanted to make sure all our communications were their best both externally and internally: our brochure, leaflets, emails, face-to-face communications, social media and, of course, our website”.

Tim arranged the review with Dr Jay Kettle-Williams, an Export Communications Consultant. Jay spent three hours with the business reviewing their communications in the context of their future plans. Jay followed up with a comprehensive report of recommendations leading to some key actions including:

  • A revamp of brochures and leaflets: It is common for brochures to be text heavy, however, for non-native English speakers, pictures are more easy to understand. Jay also highlighted the cultural preferences for some of the business’s target markets, “We hadn’t appreciated that the Koreans generally prefer to communicate through images than the written word!” said Tim. The review also prompted an internal debate on whether any physical materials are still relevant in this ‘digital world’.
  • Professionally translated welcoming communications: Lye Cross Farm enjoys receiving many visitors from overseas. As a food production facility, there are legal requirements for all site visitors to read Health and Safety rules and regulations. Using a professional translator for this communication and other, welcoming communications, a good rapport was established with the customer very quickly, “Our Chinese visitors even remarked on the quality of the Mandarin translation in their welcome pack!”
  • Focus on the relevant social media in key regions: Jay was able to highlight the importance of each of the key social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in Lye Cross Farm’s key markets.
  • Simplifying language used in the website:As with physical communications, language used in websites is often overly complicated. Jay advised the key pages to simplify and translate. As Tim explained, “there’s no point investing huge sums of money translating pages people are not looking at; it is far better to translate the key pages, well!”

Lye Cross Farm’s export business continues to grow. One of the unforeseen consequences of the ECR has been the increased awareness of the internal resources within the business, “We’re getting much better at tapping into the language skills of some of our European employees”, explained Tim; this has not only helped with international communications but Tim is also noticing a more confident and customer-centric culture throughout the business.

Tim recommends the Export Communications Review, “I have used the ECR for many businesses in which I have worked. I see it as a ‘health-check’ for our communications. It is great to have an outside expert review and challenge this important aspect of your business. It really keeps you on your toes!”

If you are thinking about reviewing your communications for an international audience then maybe an ECR could help you too? 

The Export Communications Review

The Export Communications Review (ECR) is delivered nationwide by a network of specially-trained accredited Export Communications Consultants. Together with the client, the consultant puts together a programme of reviews to suit the needs and complexity of the exporter and their goals. Each review costs £500 + VAT, however, established companies with fewer than 250 employees may be eligible for a UKTI subsidy of £250 towards the cost of each of their first three reviews.  

For more information, please visit or contact the ECR team at the address below.

UK Trade & Investment is the United Kingdom Government’s lead organisation for supporting UK companies in overseas business, and attracting inward investment.

Please follow this link to see how other Companies have benefitted from the ECR

Sectors: Dairy Products
Topics: E-commerce
Export Action Plan