February/March 2019

Local gin-trepreneurs triumph in the den

//Local gin-trepreneurs triumph in the den

Manchester gin-thusiasts Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton created Didsbury Gin in 2017 and the tipple has already been hailed by Vogue Magazine as ‘one of the most exciting new British gins’.

Hot off the heels of redundancy, and a bumper year making gin, Mark from Middlesbrough and Liam from Manchester took on their biggest challenge yet, the Dragons’ Den. The craft gin makers bagged themselves three minutes to pitch their plans for world domination to the BBC show’s five resident multi-millionaires in a bid to convince them to invest their own cash in the craft gin company. After some initial banter between the multi-millionaires, Liam and Mark hooked in offers from both Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani. Ex-career banker turned business turnaround specialist and European cash machine entrepreneur Jenny prides herself on helping young talent realise their potential and the gin-makers felt an instant chemistry with her. What’s more she has a well documented love of gin and her own home gin bar already!

With the promise of help scaling up the business and reducing costs so they could increase production, so enabling them to offer the right price point to take their product to the bigger retailers and restaurant and bar chains, Liam and Mark took Jenny’s offer of £75,000 for 33.3% of their one year old business. Since the show was recorded in April 2018 Jenny has left the den but has already guided Liam and Mark through a rebrand, an upscale of the business as well as legal and financial advice, and they are now just about to announce a number of listings with some of the UK’s biggest bar groups.

Liam Manton, co-founder of Didsbury Gin, said; “It was terrifying especially when minutes before we went in front of the Dragons we realised that our glasses smelled of egg. Sulphur in the washing machine water had made them disgusting and our gin would also be disgusting. We had to wash everything very quickly before our chances were ruined.”

Mark Smallwood, co-founder of Didsbury Gin, continued; “We loved having the opportunity to appear on the show, and when Jenny offered to invest, everything just seemed like it was coming together. “Her no-nonsense Northern personality fits well with the brand we are building, and we really liked how straightforward she was with us. She has some great ideas, and saw the growth opportunities for Didsbury Gin both nationally and internationally.”

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