Pinkster Gin raises £1.1 million to fund expansion

Cambridge-based gin brand Pinkster has raised £1.1 million in private finance to fund expansion, believing there to be “clear headroom for growth” in the category, with 11% of on-trade gin stockists now carrying a pink gin.

The pink gin brand, which was launched in June 2013, has grown year-on-year, having expanded its range to include its original raspberry infused gin, gin jam, boozy berries, raspberry liqueur and three-litre bag-in-box gin. The company also has a sub-brand called Hedgepig which carries a selection of fruit liqueurs.

The funds will be used to increase its sales reach, extend brand marketing and boost production.

Managing director of Pinkster, Stephen Marsh, said the fundraising effort “speaks volumes about the robustness of the business model, the strength of the product and the opportunities ahead”.

He added: “Backers include our directors, assorted employees, existing investors, and personal connections. All have bought into the fact that we’re a pink gin pioneer with a distinctly fruity USP.

“And with industry data showing that 11% of on-trade gin stockists carry a pink gin and 2.2 million people are now drinking pink, there’s clear headroom for growth”.

Back in 2016, the company raised £1 million through crowdfunding, surpassing its original target of £600,000.

The coloured and flavoured gin market has grown exponentially over the past year to 18 months, with high-profile big-brand launches, kicking off with Gordon’s Pink in September 2017. This was followed by Beefeater Pink in February 2018, Tanqueray’s Flor de Sevilla in April and its Lovage gin in May, basil-flavoured O’ndina gin from Campari in April and a sour cherry gin from Italian liqueur giant Luxardo, released in July.

Pinkster, who along with Edgerton Gin is one of the pioneers of the pink gin category in the UK, has always praised development in the sector. 

Speaking to the drinks business earlier this year, co-founder Will Holt said that growth in the category was “a positive thing”.

“I think this recent investment has established pink gin as a proper sub-category when it wasn’t before. It now has financial muscle behind it. Now there’s desire from the on-trade to have a pink gin in their portfolio,” he added.

Commenting on progress made this year, Marsh continued: “Ironically, given the subsequent explosion of pink gins, we didn’t set out to make a pink drink. After working our way through a fruit bowl all those years ago, we discovered that raspberry worked mighty well with the juniper, delivering the best flavour.

“Whilst we don’t have the marketing muscle of the major brand owners, we have a premium positioning and an unswerving commitment to fresh fruit. This marks us out from the pack and underpins our recent creative campaign ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Pink Gin’.

“Our mantra is to focus on the flavour rather than the just colour. In other words, there’s much more to choosing a gin than its wow factor on Instagram”.

This year, the brand hired former Diageo channel director Martijn van Buuren as its sales director who joined a four-strong management team including Holt, Marsh and finance director Georgina Northen.

The brand estimates that its gin is poured in around 5,000 venues across the UK including at pub chains Charles Wells, Marston’s and St Austell as well as restaurant groups Azzuri, Marco Pierre White Restaurants and Rick Stein’s eateries.

In the off-trade it is sold through Majestic, Marks & Spencer, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

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