Two iconic brands showcased their wares in Japan in July after being invited by HIE as part of the Cabinet Secretary’s visit to promote Scottish business in the country.
The Isle of Harris Gin and Harris Tweed featured at a reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo, where Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, promoted Scotland as an ideal location for Japanese investment.
The purpose of the visit was to build relations with the community of investors, trade partners, Scottish companies and intermediaries in Japan; while showcasing the best of Scotland on a global stage.
The presence of the Outer Hebrides brands also demonstrated that some of Scotland’s most remote enterprises can achieve international reach. The Cabinet Secretary’s programme of engagements ran from 2 – 5 July.
To date, Isle of Harris Distillers has received grant approvals from HIE totalling more than £1.25m assisting with the construction of the distillery, off-site warehouse, business development costs and attendance at trade fairs. The company also leases the land it occupies from HIE.
Simon Erlanger, managing director of Isle of Harris Gin, commented: “Despite the brand’s infancy, Harris gin has been embraced by Japan and its love of premium spirits.
“The Japanese share a passion for seaweed and seafood, so the connection with our Isle of Harris gin and the Hebridean sugar kelp lends itself to great opportunity for growth.
“I recently attended the food and drink market specialist event run by HIE, attended by two SDI in-market experts from Japan, which allowed me to discuss global export opportunities at length. I hope that by the end of 2018, 15% of sales will come from international markets and this will only continue to grow in coming years.”
The Harris Tweed sector has received support from HIE to meet the increase in demand for its unique and highly popular cloth.
Lorna Macauley, chief executive of Harris Tweed Authority, said: “Japan continues to be a vitally important premium export market for Harris Tweed. Japanese consumers understand and appreciate colour, texture and hand-craftsmanship so evident in Harris Tweed cloth."