WELL, we all know what tipple Didsbury Gin’s Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton toasted their Dragons’ Den triumph with. Craft gin fan and entrepreneur Jenny Campbell, saw something in the duo and offered the young company £75,000 for 33.3 per cent of the business.
So the nerve-racking three minute pitch in front of the cult BBC show’s five resident multi-millionaires paid off big time less than two years after the artisan business was born.
Ms Campbell said: “Didsbury Gin is all about Mark and Liam. They instantly drew me in with their charm and I thought this could work. I also went to school in Didsbury so I thought that was a good omen!
“They knew their product and the numbers behind the business, they stood their ground when my fellow Dragons attacked, and most importantly I liked them. I think gin drinkers across the UK will too. They have a great brand which will be taking on the classic names by the end of the year. Watch this space.”
Their big night came close to disaster though. Liam 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.”
Didsbury Gin was founded full time by best friends Mark and Liam after they were both made redundant at much the same time. Acclaim followed swiftly, the signature spirit being hailed by Vogue as ‘one of the most exciting new British gins’, while their Christmas 2018 special, Christmas Pudding Gin Liqueur, had the trade predicting theirs would be a brand to watch in 2019.
After some initial banter between the Den panel, Liam and Mark hooked in offers from both Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani. Ex-career banker turned business turnaround specialist Jenny prides herself on helping young talent realise their potential and the gin-makers felt an instant chemistry with her.
With the promise of help scaling up the business and reducing costs so they could increase production Liam and Mark took up Jenny’s offer.
Since the show was recorded in April 2018 Jenny 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 days away from announcing a number of listings with some of the UK’s biggest bar groups.
Didsbury Gin is already stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols across the UK, as well as the Cheese Hamlet and Epicurean in Didsbury, and Foragin in Marple. The team have also secured partnerships with NWTC, where their gin is now stocked in all of The Botanist bars across the UK, The Florist venues in Bristol and Liverpool, plus further NWTC venues including The Trading House, The Canal House and The Club House.