Martin Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillers

USA export markets explained at free event in Inverness

Published: 06/11/2019

Businesses interested in exporting to Scotland’s top international trading partner, the United States, can attend a free event in Inverness on Wednesday 20 November.

Martin Johnson, HIE's interim director of strategy and regional economy

Businesses interested in exporting to Scotland’s top international trading partner, the United States, can attend a free event in Inverness on Wednesday 20 November.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is partnering with the Scottish North American Business Council (SNABC) to deliver a one-day seminar.

The event will help businesses discover how best to take advantage of the opportunities available in the USA, Scotland’s biggest export market, outlining the support available. Exports to the USA from Scotland are worth £4.6bn a year, accounting for 16% of all activity.

Martin Murray, co-founder of Dunnet Bay Distillers, the distillery behind popular gin Rock Rose, will share his experience of starting to export to the USA and will offer top tips for others considering it as a potential market. Martin has taken full advantage of support from HIE and Scottish Development International (SDI), allowing him to enter a variety of markets across the world. Rock Rose is now exported to 15 countries worldwide and turnover has increased by 50%.

Martin Murray said: “There are so many factors to take into account when exporting to the US, for example we had to get label approval, recipe approval and change the size of our bottles to meet requirements. Added to that, different states have different rules. You are required to have both an importer and a distributor and you must take into account logistics such as shipping and the currency exchange rate so it is not a straightforward market to enter. HIE provided support to help us understand the different criteria to take into account and helped us to crystallise our strategy ensuring we put our best foot forward, whilst SDI was instrumental in linking us up with distributors in the US that had an interest in Scottish craft gin.

“Exporting to the US has been great for our business, it is our biggest export market and we are now selling Rock Rose in 17 states. We haven’t even been in the market for 12 months yet and so we are still in the early stages of our journey, but it is safe to say the opportunities are endless.”

The seminar includes a mix of presentations, expert panel discussions and case studies from successful exporters. Delegates will have the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with industry and in-market specialists who will provide advice on how to plan and establish international trading partnerships with the USA.

A breakout session for tourism businesses will provide insight into unlocking potential in this sector which accounts for 20% of overseas visitors to Scotland. Siobhan Rieley, Market Manager for the Americas at VisitScotland will give an overview of the US market, whilst a case study will be delivered by Johnstons of Elgin Operations Manager, Stewart Marshall.

Martin Johnson, interim director of strategy and regional economy at HIE, said: “This informative session will help businesses identify buoyant sectors and plan out routes to market. With experts providing advice on financial, tax and legal considerations, including tariffs, attendees will get a full picture of how to make exporting dreams a reality.

“We have a strong line up including speakers from the US Government, SNABC, accounting firm RSM, commercial law firm, Burness Paull, tax and financial services consultancy US Tax FS, business services consultancy Newable Avitus as well as State representatives from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Attendees will also learn a lot from businesses, Dunnet Bay Distillers and design consultancy Contagious who will share their experience and advice on how to successfully crack the USA market.”

The event includes the opportunity to network over lunch followed by one-to-one meetings with speakers and market experts.

Doing Business in the USA will be held at Eden Court Theatre, Bishops Road, Inverness on Wednesday 20 November from 9am to 1pm, followed by lunch and then one to one meetings.To sign up for the event visit

For those who are unable to attend in person, there is an option to watch the main event online via a livestream which can be accessed through the registration form.

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