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Former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King backs Ellie Goulding’s hard seltzer brand

The former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King has backed Ellie Goulding’s hard seltzer brand, Served, investing in the business as well as becoming a senior board advisor, it was revealed today.

King, who headed up the UK retailer between 2004-2014 and is a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer and a member of the PIB at PWC, will bring his considerable business and retail experience to the brand, which was launched last year by brothers Dean and Ryan Ginsberg, with singer songwriter Goulding acquiring a significant stake in the business in June this year.

To date, the brand has racked up 1,000 stockists including listings at WHSmith, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Planet Organic and said revenues had surged by more than 1,000% in the last three months through its direct-to-consumer channel.

The hard seltzer category is one of the fastest-growing drink categories in the UK, and is expected to reach £600m in sales by 2025, according to Nielsen. In the US, the category already amassed sales in excess of $4bn in  2020, IRI said.

Ginsberg said he was delighted to welcome Justin to the  advisory team. “As we enter our next phase of exciting growth, it’s important that we bring on the very best people to support  the brand in each of our core channels – and you just won’t find anyone more talented and  experienced than Justin when it comes to retail,” he said.

King said the Dean and Ryan had created “a truly premium product which stands out in the crowded  field of the hard seltzer category which is set to explode in the coming year”.

Made in the UK, Served is a 4% ABV plant-based, gluten-free hard seltzer with a “crisp, fresh flavour, and a touch of natural sweetness” that is aimed at health-conscious and eco-conscious consumers.

The brand is proud of its green credentials, using wonky fruit and ecological packaging for the brand and promising 100% transparency as it “support habitats, people and animals on the frontline of the nature crisis”.

“We are  going to take on some of the biggest brands on the planet, but do it our way,” Goulding said.” We refuse to compromise on quality nor the health of the natural world.

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