By Ian McConnell

ISLE of Harris Distillers has secured funding to support a planned expansion into Asia and the US as well as moves to boost its presence in European markets and Canada, having seen its cash flow impacted by lockdown.

As well as pursuing growth of exports of its award-winning Isle of Harris gin, the youthful distillery at Tarbert plans to invest in additional warehouses to mature its single malt Scotch whisky.

The funding is in the form of a £750,000 coronavirus business interruption loan from banking giant HSBC.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Distillery lifts spirit of fragile Isle of Harris community

The bank said that, while Isle of Harris Distillers saw a 50 per cent surge in online orders during lockdown, the sudden closure of bars, restaurants and its visitor centre “adversely impacted its cash flow”.

HSBC added that the funding “enabled the distillery to continue focusing on its long-term future as it invests in the production of its first single malt whisky and navigates through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Ron MacEachran, chairman of Isle of Harris Distillers, said: “We suddenly lost sales from our visitor centre and our business with the hospitality industry when Covid-19 hit, but HSBC UK’s backing has given us additional firepower and flex to navigate our way through the extraordinary levels of uncertainty we have seen since the start of this pandemic.”

READ MORE: Saturday interview: Distillery chief driven by job of taking the spirit of Harris global

He added: “We’ve got positive plans to increase our exports and will be investing in additional warehouses to mature our whisky. The additional liquidity from HSBC UK has also allowed us to continue with our plans for growth.”

Neal Tully, relationship director at HSBC UK, said: “Isle of Harris Distillery is a fantastic example of a Scottish business that has responded swiftly in response to a rapid change in customer demand. We have worked with the distillery as it has gone from strength to strength over the years, so we were pleased to support the business as it adapted to a challenging time.”