By Max Clarke
Premium vodka and spirit producer Chase Distillery is confident of doubling its turnover to £3-4m in 2011 on the back of strong US sales.
The prediction follows a tie-up between Chase Distillery and US brand management firm, Pelican brands, to sell the firm’s premium vodka and elderflower liquor to US distributors and retailers from September.
Founder and ceo Will Chase, who recently announced he was leaving his brainchild 'Tyrrel's Crisps' in order to focus on his distillery, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Turnover this year will be around 1.5m, we’re planning to boost this to £3-4m next year and £10m the year after on the basis of growing demand in the US and China.
“The States represents 60% of the world market for vodka, while the UK only represents 3%. The UK is more of a shop window for a brand, if it does well here then it’s likely to do well worldwide.”
Chase added that the distillery also has ambitious growth plans for China and India, with its unique selling point the romance of the English countryside. He also criticised what he described as cheap imitators trying to capture a share of the premium spirit market, following his firm’s success.
Chase Distillery launched the first English potato vodka in 2008, and in 2009 vodka replaced Scottish whisky as Britain’s most popular spirit. It now represents over 30% of UK spirit market sales, according to the Gin & Vodka Association.
Chase said: “I can see another 10-20 new ‘premium’ spirit firms mushrooming next year. You can be a one-minute wonder and get your product stocked behind bars. But will this success last, where will you be in three months time?
“We mash and grow our own potatoes, and use our own distillery to produce everything from scratch. We also make gin from our own cider, after we turn that into apple vodka. I can tell you the precise still that each bottle comes from.
“Other producers simply throw some bulk-bought vodka through a still, add a few botanicals and call it premium gin. We want to keep Chase as a premium brand.”
This commitment to quality necessitates care in regard to where the firm’s premium spirits are stocked, with listings at The Ivy, Harrods and The Ritz. Nonetheless, Chase does not rule out deals with selected major multiples:
“Waitrose fulfils our quality criterion and we have a national presence in their stores. We’re also in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and sell an awful lot to Majestic Wine.”
And although Chase has ambitious plans to expand the business, he claims that world domination and a “corporate approach” is not on the cards:
“We have to grow. We currently shift one Transit van a day but could easily expand that to 10. The beauty of a distillery is that we could increase production by 50-60 times without spending a vast amount of money,” he said.