Find out how the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) helped The Herbal Gin Co. get off to a flying start.
The Herbal Gin Company have blossomed within the first 12 months of business after receiving support from the Durham Food and Drink Network, part of Business Durham’s Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP), which is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In little under a year the fledgling business from Newton Aycliffe have built a digital gin distillery, taken on four new members of staff and developed a strong brand and e-commerce website.
Set up in June 2019 by process engineer Wayne Richardson, a life-long resident of the town, and former GP Colin Scott, a partner in Peaseway Medical Centre for 16 years, the business has enjoyed an explosive start with sales figures growing despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus lockdown of 2020.
The inspiration for the business came when Colin was enjoying a family holiday. The former GP was striving to achieve a greater work-life balance, to do something creative and pursue his passion for quality gin, from there The Herbal Gin Company was born.
The Durham Food and Drink Network was set up to intensively support County Durham businesses in the food and drink sector to help them get their products to market and grow. Commissioned and funded for by the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP), the sector specific support programme provided businesses with the opportunity to take advantage of themed events, funding advice and one-to-one support sessions.
The network supported Colin and Wayne in further developing their business plan and in growing the business, which has contributed to their continued success leading them to employ more staff to keep up with demand. The support also helped the duo prepare an application for LEADER funding, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Colin said: “The Durham Food and Drink Network was an extremely useful resource for us. As we developed our business they were always on the end of the phone ready to signpost us to the right support, saving us valuable time. This, in addition to helping us prepare our LEADER funding application which will provide a much-needed cash injection to grow and develop our business further.”
The business started during a difficult period for founders Wayne and Colin. Only a few short months after receiving the keys for the distillery on Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the UK and the rest of the world.
Wayne said: “Right from the start we had to adapt, offering local gin deliveries from a socially safe distance during the COVID-19 lockdown. We received our retail licence in April, which enabled us to open our doors to the public once government guidelines allow us to do so safely. Our vision is to create an experience for our customers. We want to be a place where customers can create their own unique flavour of gin, in addition to enjoying our established house blends.”
As well as running a successful fledgling Gin Distillery, co-owner Wayne is a keen pilot. This has led to the development of ‘Aviator Bar’ made from authentic parts of various aircraft. Visitors to the aviation themed bar can enjoy a drink in seating from genuine passenger aircrafts, order a drink from the bar – made from a authentic side panel of a Jet2 Boeing 737 as well as an old single engine aircraft suspended above the bar itself creating a truly unique experience.
Lisa Wall, Business Engagement Officer for the Durham Business Opportunities Programme added: “DBOP sector-specific support programmes such as the Durham Food and Drink Programme provide the specialist support needed to accelerate the growth of businesses in specific sectors identified as having high growth potential. When that programme comes to a natural end, Business Durham is here to help businesses navigate and simplify the often-complex support landscape. We’ve already met to discuss future growth plans and I look forward to supporting Wayne and Colin as they develop their business now and in the future.”
*The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022, helping County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth. It is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, the business support service for Durham County Council, helping to deliver more and better jobs and a strong competitive economy.
For more information on The Herbal Gin Company visit https://www.theherbalgin.com/