Irn Bru maker pumps £1m into non-alcoholic spirits

By Stuart Stone contact

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Raising the Barr: Stryyk CEO Alex Carlton hopes the investment will fuel a tenfold increase in sites stocking his spirits
Raising the Barr: Stryyk CEO Alex Carlton hopes the investment will fuel a tenfold increase in sites stocking his spirits
A seven-figure investment from AG Barr will help Stryyk non-alcoholic spirits rapidly expand its on-trade presence, according to the 0%-ABV drink maker’s chief executive.

It was reported at the start of June that the FTSE 250-listed maker of Irn Bru and Rubicon juices, AG Barr, had paid £1m for a 20% stake in alcohol-free spirit maker Stryyk.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser​, Stryyk’s CEO and co-founder Alex Carlton explained that the Cumbernauld-based drinks giant’s investment would hopefully increase the number of sites stocking Stryyk’s range of non-alcoholic spirits – Not Rum, Not Vodka and Not Gin – tenfold.

“Very simply put, the idea of the investment is to allow Stryyk to build a formidable, solid, experienced marketing team, to market the brand to the on and off-trade, to build our export business, and to develop,” he explained.

“Widely publicised as £1m for a small percentage of the business, we have the money now to build a brand new marketing team to activate the brand, invest in more digitally, point-of-sale within the trade accounts, and support the Funkin team who driving the sale hard.

“We’ve recruited a smashing new marketing manager, we’re recruiting an activation manager and an events manager – we’re now looking at events we want to be present at as well as partnerships.”

The deal followed Scottish company AG Barr’s 2015 acquisition of Funkin Cocktails – also founded by the team behind Stryyk – Carlton​ and Andrew King, and which currently distributes Stryyk’s non-alcoholic spirits in the UK.

Discussing the investment at the time of its completion, AG Barr chief executive Roger White explained: “More and more consumers are seeking a drink that adds positively to their social experience but without the side-effects of alcohol.

“We’re very excited to be involved in both investing in and growing the Stryyk brand in this new and fast-moving consumer category.”

Growth of non-alcoholic spirits

Unveiled in summer 2018, the launch of Stryyk’s non-alcoholic spirits followed the entry of Diageo-backed Seedlip​ several years prior as well as Pernod Ricard UK’s Ceder’s​ into an ever growing no and low-alcohol market in the UK.

According to research from the BMC Public Health medical journal​, a higher proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds said they avoided alcohol in 2015 – between 25% and 33% – compared to one fifth in 2005.

Moreover, AG Barr’s investment preceded Fentimans’ inaugural consumer market report revealing that sales of premium soft drinks had increased by 33.1% year on year to total more than half-a-billion pounds in sales​.

Discussing the challenge in convincing consumers to switch to non-alcoholic spirits, Carlton explained: “Right now there hasn’t been the option. If you’re not drinking and go to a national account, you've got water, cranberry juice, coke, orange juice – what do they cost, £3? It’s hard for them to sell something that costs consumers 50p to pour at home.

“For £5 or £6 they can have any of the cocktails on the menu but without the ABV, or a gin and tonic. Mainstream accounts can charge £6 or £7 for a gin and tonic, they can have a Stryyk cocktail for £1 less.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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