North West entrepreneurs grow gin business from home based distillery to national brand

Two entrepreneurs, with only an inital £20K in start up funding, have taken their artisan gin business from a home distillery in Manchester to the shelves of national department stores and the pages of Vogue.

It has been an amazing journey for Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood (pictured below), who founded Alderman’s Drinks Ltd a year ago, but already their Didsbury Gin brand has scored distribution deals with Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

Trumpeted by Vogue as “one of the most exciting new British gin brands”, Didsbury Gin is handcrafted in batches of 10 bottles and takes inspiration for its flavours and aromas from the plants and flowers of Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden, Didsbury.

The company, was backed in February last year with a five-figure loan from Business Finance Solutions, and is now looking to secure additional investment and expand with new stockist deals.

The owners plans for 2018 include targeting overseas growth and recruiting two new sales staff. The gin enthusiasts also intend to look at opportunities for training young people as their hospitality offer grows.

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 startup loan, we’d quite simply not be on this journey today.”

BFS’ head of lending, Roger Seddon, commented: “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.”

Alderman’s Drinks Ltd name originates from alderman Fletcher Moss, who donated the eponymous botanical park to the city of Manchester in 1915.