Liqueur brand who turned down BBC Dragons eyes expansion

A craft liqueur company that turned down money from the BBC’s Dragons, has relaunched as it goes after on-trade sales and the premium off-trade.

British Cassis has invested in upping production and a new look after turning down the BBC Dragons

British Cassis has invested in upping production and a new look after turning down the BBC Dragons

British Cassis is rolling out new upmarket packaging for its Herefordshire-made blackcurrant liqueur, as it looks to increase distribution beyond its farm shop and deli heartland.

In August managing director Jo Hilditch turned down offers of £50,000 from three of the Dragons in the BBC series Dragon’s Den, who each wanted a 30% – 40% stake in the company. Although it exceeded the amount of equity in the business she was willing to give up, the positive response to the product demonstrated the brand’s potential and motivated her to raise funds to develop it further.

“Following a successful experience in the Dragons’ Den in 2015, we were inundated with investment opportunities. It became clear we had a winning brand on our hands that just needed to be developed,” she said.

It has now invested around £300k in new premium bottles and in ramping up prosecution at the fruit farm, with a purpose-built production facility on-site which includes a fermentation room, bottling facilities and storage. It currently produces around 500 tonnes of liqueur a year, but has the potential to increase production twenty-fold, newly appointed executive director Peter Andrew told db.

The company is now targeting bars, restaurants and hotels in London, as well as off-trade accounts in premium food halls and retailers, promoting the drink as an perfect serve with Prosecco or as an aperitif over ice.

It is also eying up exporting opportunities and is in talks with distributors in North America.

“With the significant investments that have been made, we feel we are ready to meet the demands of expanding into these new territories,” Hilditch said.

The brand has been relaunched under the auspices of parent company White Heron Brands, and has rebranded in bigger 500ml bottles, which have a etched filigree design and gold typography to boost its on-shelf appeal. A 200ml bottles is also available.

White Heron also produces two other liqueurs, a framboise liqueur and poire liqueur, that are sold in farm shops and delis, but is cutting its strawberry and blackberry skus.

The company was started as a way to use a surplus of blackcurrants. The farm also supplies fruit to Suntory’s Ribena brand.

British Cassis old packaging

British Cassis’s new upmarket packaging makes a big change from its previous look (above)

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