Leamington’s first ever gin distillery is a step closer to opening after the start-up company behind the concept toasted strong levels of trade.
Dave Blick launched The Warwickshire Gin Company last year selling gin that is inspired by historical Warwickshire tales, with a view to eventually opening up a gin distillery of his own in the town.
The most popular gin - called Leamington on Parade - is lightly spiced to commemorate the heritage of three of the town’s elephants, who were brought to the area from Sri Lanka by circus performer Sam Lockhart in the mid-1800s.
Other creations include the Kingmaker in honour of the 16th Earl of Warwick which uses forest fruits which were common in his time of power while the The Philosopher’s Daughter features ingredients from a knot garden at Kenilworth Castle during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Orders came pouring in throughout 2019 at various food and drink festivals - generating more than £60,000 in revenue - but then Dave and his team found themselves having to suddenly adapt when the Coronavirus pandemic struck.
Dave used the online marketing knowledge he gained from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce via the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and the district & borough councils to ramp up his online presence to maintain a strong level of trade.
The business fulfilled more than 1,000 online orders between March and July - alongside diversifying by using the alcohol used in their gin to make thousands of litres of hand sanitiser for frontline workers.
And after a strong period of trade - which has also seen the company rack up more than 6,000 Facebook and Instagram followers - The Warwickshire Gin Company is gearing up to open its distillery in September where the gin can be made on site at its Neilston Street premises.
Dave, who used to own a parcel carrying franchise for 23 years before going solo, said: “I always used to dream about starting up my own gin distillery, but after receiving help from a distillery in Wales who helped me to research different gin recipes, I took the plunge.
“Even though we launched 18 months ago, with the help from my Business Advisor at the Chamber I’ve probably learned the most in the past four months because we have had to adapt the way we attract business.
“We were initially reliant on sales from attending events, then Covid-19 hit and we suddenly needed to find a way to get a lot of people to buy from us quickly via a different route. The Chamber helped us with marketing techniques, social media and adapting our website in order to capitalise on a scenario where everyone was indoors and using technology more than usual.
“In May alone we generated around £20,000 worth of sales from people either wanting to treat themselves or to send loved ones a gift to say that they were thinking of them.
“The last 18 months has taught us that even during the toughest of times, our business idea works as we can target both consumers directly, as well as local shops and bars, and we are really excited to take it to the next level with the opening of our distillery.”
Start-up businesses are able to gain free support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce; covering all aspects of setting up a business including free workshops relating to business planning, finance and marketing, alongside personal mentoring and sourcing finance.
Keely Hancox, Operations Manager, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “Dave has laced the flavours of his gin with fascinating local history to really make his products stand out in a crowded marketplace, which has undoubtedly helped with his marketing.
“You can have the best product in the world but if you aren’t reaching the right audience then it isn’t going to fulfil its potential. We have worked with Dave to help him to develop a multi-channel approach so that he is maximising sales from online platforms, as well as being ready when physical events get going again.”
For more information about start up support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk
The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and the district & borough councils is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, in partnership with Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and the District and Borough Councils.
Pictured: David Blick with Hardeep Sandhu, of the Chamber