SME supplying NHS is first Scottish firm to get new UK Export Finance support

Thu 26 Aug 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

An Aberdeen-based small business supplying the NHS has become the first firm in Scotland to benefit from a recently-launched UK Export Finance (UKEF) solution, the General Export Facility (GEF).

Reftrade UK is the first business in Scotland to secure government backing under the new scheme.

The firm supplies specialist containers to store and transport COVID-19 vaccines to the NHS.

Commercial bank partnership

GEF was launched in December 2020 in partnership with leading UK commercial banks.

Under GEF, exporters are able to apply for finance from the UK’s five largest banks. This finance is backed by a UKEF guarantee to free up working capital that can be used for everyday export costs and to scale up business operations.

The government will provide an 80% guarantee on financial support from lenders to support a trader’s general exporting costs, up to the value of £25 million.

Vaccine rollout success

Reftrade supplies refrigerated, offshore and hazardous area containers, working with NHS Scotland to provide specialist equipment to keep batches of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines at a set temperature through the vaccine rollout.

Following this success, Reftrade secured support from UKEF and the Bank of Scotland to finance international expansion. This includes boosting pharmaceutical exports and supplying offshore projects with temperature-controlled containers needed for the construction of wind turbine sites.

With GEF help, Reftrade plans to triple its headcount and expand its business to fulfil £1 million of export orders.

Bridging the cashflow gap

As export orders have grown, Reftrade required additional working capital. The Bank of Scotland proposed a structure that would bridge the gap in their increasing cashflow funding requirements, using UKEF’s new GEF.

Expanding on its busiest year ever in 2020, Reftrade has over £1 million of export deals in the pipeline. As a result, the company plans to triple its headcount and relocate to larger premises, creating new highly skilled jobs in Scotland.

Minister endorsement

Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP, said he was “delighted that they have been the first company in Scotland to receive GEF which will help them continue their tremendous growth through international trade.

“The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been one of this country’s greatest successes stories, and underpinning it are expert UK companies like Reftrade.”

About UKEF

UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency and a government department, working alongside the Department for International Trade as an integral part of its strategy and operations.

Established in 1919, it works to ensure that no viable UK export should fail for a lack of finance from the private market.