A growing Isle of Man-based drinks business, Roots Beverage Co., has secured a finance package to assist its planned expansion into the UK market this year.
The finance, provided as a loan from the Isle of Man Government Enterprise Development Scheme (EDS), will support management ambitions of doubling monthly sales by the end of 2017 and creating new jobs to grow its workforce.
Founded in January 2015, Roots produces healthy soft drink alternatives, sweetened with honey from its own beehives in the Island. It has become an established brand in the Isle of Man, with a range of popular products including Real Ginger Juice, Proper Lemonade and Cold Brew Coffee. It will shortly launch its latest line, a Manx-made tonic water, as part of its expansion plans.
With distribution in the UK, Roots aims to double its monthly sales by the end of this year, and intends to double its four-strong workforce by 2020.
Founder Jamie Blair said: ‘This funding has given us the platform we needed in order to launch our products in the UK market while also strengthening our Isle of Man presence. In the Isle of Man we have increased our workforce and improved our manufacturing plant to ensure it is ready to be audited for Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) accreditation.
‘We have employed the services of a digital marketing and media company and a graphic designer, allowing us to produce marketing and branding materials such as a new website, a fully edited, high-quality video about the business, a brochure and a sales presentation pack to present to clients. Importantly, this will help us tell our story about the importance of the honey bee as the business grows.’
Ash Dougal invested in Roots last year to help the business grow. He is an active Angel Investor who has backed a number of local businesses and start-ups..
Ash said: ‘This new funding has also allowed us to set up accounts with UK-based wholesalers, distributors and bottling plants. Without the funding through SPARK, a UK launch would have been unlikely.
‘Chris Walters of SPARK Impact has worked closely with us every step of the way, not only giving us plenty of assistance through the funding stage but also linking us with potential customers and contacts through her network in the UK.’
The market for healthy, natural soft drink alternatives which are low in calories and sugar, is highly competitive, but also extremely valuable. In addition to offering customers natural ingredients and award-winning products, Roots has an additional competitive edge; honey from its own beehives in the Isle of Man is used in production, with the intention to sweeten all its drinks with honey from its own hives once production allows.
Bees in the Island do not carry the Varroa Mite which affects more than half of the worldwide bee population, causing a rapid decline in numbers. Roots is proud to be based in a country where the bees have disease-free status, recognised by the European Union, and is committed to the repopulation of the bee species through expanding the number of its own hives and donating 10% of profits to global bee-related projects.
Chris Walters, an Investment Manager at SPARK Impact Limited, which is responsible for managing the EDS, said: ‘The Scheme has enjoyed success in attracting businesses to launch in or relocate to the Isle of Man, bringing new jobs and inward investment. However, the scheme is also open to existing Manx firms to help them grow and develop.
‘The management team at Roots has worked hard over the past two years to create its brand and establish its high-quality products in the local market. It has a clear business plan to expand into the UK, leveraging the unique aspects of its offering to compete.
‘This EDS investment is assisting Roots take that step forward to grow the business. This is not only great news for the company but will help raise the profile of the Isle of Man, especially in the food and drink sector where the Island has so much to offer.’
She added: ‘The potential of the EDS is being realised and talks are at an advanced stage with a number of business across a variety of sectors. We look forward to more Manx firms, like Roots, exploring the opportunities the EDS offers to help them develop and reach their aspirations.’
Offering flexible funding packages, including loan and equity investments, the EDS is open to businesses at all stages, from start-up to expansion and development. The EDS invests up to £1 million in businesses on or relocating to the Isle of Man through a variety of debt and equity investment instruments, and is available across a very broad range of sectors.
The SPARK Isle of Man team, of Investment Director Mark Borzomato, Senior Investment Manager Michael Bakewell and Investment Manager Chris Walters, can be contacted by calling 01624 629741 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the EDS Accelerator and Relocator programmes visit http://sparkimpact.co.uk/funds.
Photo - Chris Walters from SPARK Impact (centre) with Ash Dougal (left) and Jamie Blair of Roots Beverage Co.