Gin’s revival in recent years – dubbed the “ginaissance” – has been phenomenal. The popularity of the juniper berry-flavoured spirit continues to soar, with some 73 million bottles of gin bought in the UK in 2018, generating record-breaking UK gin sales of £2.1bn1.
No less remarkable is the success of Didsbury Gin2, a highly popular Manchester-based craft gin brand, described by Vogue as “one of the most exciting new British gins”.
Didsbury Gin’s founders, Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood, have also attracted Dragons’ Den investment from Jenny Campbell, who now owns a stake in the business. Their successful appearance aired in January 2019.
Recipe for success
In 2016, good mates and gin enthusiasts Manton and Smallwood came up with the idea of creating their own gin. It would be a modern, original take on a classic London dry gin, partly inspired by the wonders of Didsbury’s Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden.
While still in full-time jobs, Manton and Smallwood used a home-based distillery to create a gin they loved. Others loved it too, fueling their belief that there was a market for it.
“Ours is a bright, vibrant and zesty gin – created by gin drinkers for gin drinkers,” stresses Manton. “It’s made using a blend of fresh and dried lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit peels, balanced perfectly with classic gin botanicals. We’re passionate people who genuinely love gin. Before we even thought of starting a business, we simply set out to create a gin that we’d enjoy drinking.”
Cash flow solution
Winning large orders from big customers is fantastic, but it has cash flow implications, Manton confesses. “All businesses must make enough sales and manage their cash flow successfully – they’re the two key challenges. You’re under constant pressure to make sure enough money is coming in to cover money going out, because you can’t run a business without cash.
“The problem is, some customers, especially large ones, expect credit of 60 days or more, and an order might be worth many thousands of pounds. In the mean time, you must pay to produce your stock, and your suppliers might only give you 30 days’ credit. Invoice finance offered the perfect solution. Without it, we couldn’t afford to fulfill our orders. It’s not just that: you need money to operate your business and fund its growth.”
Smallwood recalls: “Our business advisor, Hallidays, recommended invoice finance from Aldermore. Straight away, we got the feeling that Aldermore understood our cash flow challenge. Tariq Bourdouane [Aldermore Business Development Manager] has been really helpful, explaining in plain language the invoice finance deal, which was set up very quickly. We explored other invoice finance providers, but they weren’t suitable. Not everyone will advance the sums we needed.”
Manton adds: “You quickly get the cash you need to run your business, you don’t have to wait months. Invoice finance removes cash-flow headaches, freeing you up to focus on other things. Now, we don’t panic if another big order comes in, because Aldermore enables us to fulfill it. We have big plans for the future, but invoice finance means we’re not worried about whether we can afford to scale our business. It’s been brilliant for us.”
Tariq Bourdouane explains: “Before we lend, obviously, we must be confident that the business is sound. Then you look at the people running it. Can you work with them? What about trust, honesty and integrity? Are they committed, ambitious and driven? On first meeting Liam and Mark those things were apparent. They’re full of passion and energy – and that’s infectious.
“There’s a good fit between Aldermore and Didsbury Gin, and we were confident that we could create a good partnership. The product and branding were impressive, and gin has become extremely popular again, so we were confident in their prospects. And they’d already secured funding from other sources, who saw what we saw.”
Crucially, says Bourdouane, Aldermore has provided advice and support – not just finance. “Liam and Mark hadn’t used invoice finance previously, so we were there to aid their understanding and ensure that everything went smoothly. Invoice finance has provided the cash they need to run and grow their business. And it’s a solution that can grow as they grow. We want to make sure they have the finance and support they need to achieve their ambitions.”