The Finance Durham fund managed by Maven Capital Partners has completed its first deal, investing £250,000 in the region’s largest small-batch craft distillery, Durham Gin.
Founded in 2014 by former NHS chief Jon Chadwick, Durham Gin is a small-batch craft distillery that creates spirits using a 400 litre copper pot. The company, which is now one of the region’s leading craft distillers, produces gin, vodka and gin-based liqueurs sold under the Durham Gin and Durham Vodka brands.
While the exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, Durham Gin contains fresh water from a natural spring in County Durham and 10 separate botanicals, including floral flavours such as juniper, elderflower and pink peppercorn.
The company moved into its current Langley Park distillery in January 2014, selling its first bottle of Gin just one month later. It quickly secured shelf space in flagship stores across the North East and now supplies national retailers such as Fenwick and Majestic Wines.
The spirit market has enjoyed stellar growth as consumer tastes have shifted towards craft alcohol, favouring smaller, independent producers. Last year, sales of gin in the UK increased by 16%, equating to 43 million bottles sold across the country. The UK Gin market is now worth over £1 billion and is expected to rise to £1.3 billion by 2020.
The investment will allow the business to relocate to central Durham to accommodate greater production capacity and storage facilities. The new site will also include a new visitor centre, which will provide guided distillery tours and host private and corporate events.
Alongside fulfilling its innovative expansion plans, the Finance Durham funding will also support the launch of Durham Whisky, the North East’s first ever Whisky, which will be produced by Head Distiller, Jessica Tomlinson. The first bottles will be available for purchase in 2021, and customers can pre-order their bottles from the first batch distilled later this year.
The investment into Durham Gin is the first deal from the £20 million Fund set up by Business Durham, part of Durham County Council. The Fund is managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s most active private equity houses and SME finance providers, to support the growth of high potential businesses located in, or looking to relocate to the County. Maven provides flexible funding packages tailored to SMEs’ growth requirements, and has recently opened offices in both Newcastle and Durham to support regional businesses.
Jon Chadwick, Founder of Durham Gin said: “It has been a fantastic process working with Maven’s local team, which has a long-standing experience in assisting start-ups like ourselves go from strength to strength. Maven took time to understand our business and our particular needs thoroughly, tailoring the investment to support our growth strategy.”
Michael Vassallo, Investment Director at Maven said, “We are delighted to support Durham Gin’s growth plans through the Finance Durham Fund investment. Jon is a real entrepreneur with a very talented team behind him. This is an exciting business consisting of driven and passionate individuals, with a product tailored to an increasing market demand. As the first of many growing businesses the Fund will support, we look forward to helping Durham Gin in their quest to become the region’s distiller of choice.”
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are pleased to have invested the first part of the Finance Durham Fund into a real home-brewed, local success story. We are seeing more and more firms start up and grow here in County Durham, and the £20m Durham Finance Fund will support those regional businesses as they scale up, creating employment locally and adding to the economic prosperity of the County. Investments made by the Fund are expected to yield a return, and as the £20m grows, the returns will be reinvested to help even more businesses in the future. As pioneers of offering funding via the local authority, we are proud to be able to offer this support to Durham Gin in such an innovative and direct way.
Paul Wigham, Corporate Partner at Watson Burton LLP, who led the firm’s team advising Maven on the first Finance Durham deal, assisted by solicitor Eleanor James, said: “Having assisted Maven with its first investment from the Finance Durham Fund we look forward to working with Maven and businesses within County Durham in the future. It is excellent news that businesses within County Durham, or seeking to relocate there, have access to this well-needed funding to facilitate their growth aspirations.”