An artisan gin business has taken its product from a home distillery in Didsbury to the shelves of Harvey Nichols and the pages of Vogue, using a £20,000 loan from Business Finance Solutions (BFS), the North West delivery partner of the government’s national £310m Start Up Loans programme and a lending partner of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Gin enthusiasts Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood (pictured) took their inspiration for Didsbury Gin from the botanical gardens of Fletcher Moss & Parsonage, which were given to the village of Didsbury by Alderman Fletcher Moss. From an initial experiment in the back room of Liam’s Didsbury home and after securing finance from BFS in February 2017, Didsbury Gin has now taken the drinks market by storm, with distribution in Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and salutations from British Vogue, who recently hailed it “one of the most exciting new British gin brands.”
Now hand crafted in an eco-friendly copper in batches of just ten bottles, the flavours of the gin are inspired by the plants and flowers of the eponymous gardens, combining a blend of botanicals, fresh grapefruit, orange, lime and lemon peels, underpinned by British roots and aromas.
Liam and Mark went on to launch a limited edition Christmas Gin, which sold out in a day, and plan to develop more flavoured gins. Other goals for 2018 include securing additional investment to expand the brand, growing stockist numbers and embarking on a period of domestic and overseas growth. Liam and Mark will also be growing their team with two new sales roles this year and looking at how they can train young people as they grow their hospitality offer.
Liam said: “Working with BFS in our first year was great - they helped us sense check our business plan, challenged us in areas where we needed to expand our knowledge and have linked us in with the Business Growth Hub who are helping us with our growth aspirations. Without the Start Up Loan, we’d quite simply not be on this journey today.”
Roger Seddon, Head of Lending at BFS, said: “Liam and Mark have achieved a huge amount in the 12 months since they first came to us with the concept of a locally inspired gin. So many of our client success stories start as similar ‘eureka’ moments and we have been able to finance the growth and development of those concepts into some remarkable businesses that are now competing in national and international markets.”
BFS will see £15 million allocated to new start-ups across the North West over a two year period, creating around 3,000 new businesses and over 5,000 new jobs in the region. BFS is the finance arm of The Growth Company and supported by the GM Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership. BFS is a key alternative source of funding for businesses in Greater Manchester and has grown a comprehensive range of finance products from £500 through to £500k, with support on raising early stage equity through the Co Angel Investment Service of up to £2m. BFS currently manages over £100m of publically-backed small business investments across the UK.
Find out more about BFS finance at http://www.businessfinancesolutions.org.uk or by calling 0161 245 4737.