Invest NI backs Spirited marketing drive to boost exports

Feb 18, 2013

Photography: Michael Coooper

In picture are Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food and Tourism Director, with Stuart and Barbara Hughes of Spirited Drinks.

Spirited Drinks, the Lisburn-based manufacturer of award winning Boozeberries and Ruby Blue super premium berry liqueurs, is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to expand sales abroad.

The company has received marketing assistance from Invest NI to build on a recent series of new contracts won outside Northern Ireland. As a result of the new business, the company is ramping up production and launching a rebranding of its Ruby Blue liqueur aimed at the cocktails market in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and key export markets developed during 2012.

Invest NI has provided marketing assistance of £40,000 to help grow sales of its two branded liqueurs. The company has also been assisted by Invest NI’s Food Marketing teams in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to identify and secure business.

Assistance towards the company’s marketing drive was announced by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food and Tourism Director, during a visit to its new processing operation. He was briefed about the new marketing drive by Stuart Hughes, Managing Director of Spirited Drinks, who set up the business in 2010 with wife Barbara.

Mr Mawhinney said: “Our marketing assistance will help the company to maximise the business potential of market breakthroughs it achieved last year in Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey. It will also enable the business to explore opportunities in Canada with the Invest NI Trade team. The company has taken part in several Invest NI trade initiatives abroad and made significant contacts which it is following up.

“Spirited Drinks has developed two very innovative products for consumers and the professional cocktail trade. We believe the products have significant potential in markets outside Northern Ireland for this very enterprising and ambitious business.”

Mr Hughes said: “Invest NI’s support has been invaluable and has enabled us to focus on developing our brands and sales in target markets through guidance from the food marketing team and also by assisting our participation in trade missions and exhibitions.

“We are really excited about the business generated last year particularly in the final quarter. We intend to more than double production to enable us to meet the demand for our unique products especially in our two most important markets, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“Over the past few months we’ve signed up a distribution deal with Premier Beverage Brands in Dublin and we are now supplying prestigious outlets there including the Celtic Whiskey Shop. We already supply high-end retailer Donnybrook Fair in Dublin.

“In addition, the leading online store, is also now stocking the company’s Ruby Blue brand for mixologists and drinks enthusiasts.

“We’ve recently strengthened our distribution in the Republic with the agreement with Premier Beverage Brands. A key objective for us in 2013 will be to develop opportunities that we’ve identified in Great Britain. We’ve been actively raising our profile there through participation in major trade events such as BBC Good Food Shows. Feedback from these events has been immensely encouraging."

Formed in 2010, Spirited Drinks produces Award Winning berry liqueurs naturally enhanced with the infusion of whole berries then bottle-aged in mellow grain spirit. The products, which have gained awards from the Guild of Fine Food (Great Taste Awards) and from the influential Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, include wild cranberries, wild blueberries and zesty blackcurrants.

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