Northumbria University students help artisan gin maker plan for growth

June 10 2019 @ 10:10 by Richard Dawson

Artisan gin producers, the Northumberland Spirit Company, has grown from operating out of a potting shed in 2016 to achieving turnover in excess of £300,000 last year.

Company director Neil Osborne believes the business is now primed for future growth after seeking out advice and support from business students taking part in the business clinic at Northumbria University.

Neil brief the team of students to research a strategy that would improve productivity through increasing sales and raising brand awareness outside of his native North East.

The students took on the task, which also forms part of their undergraduate degree at Newcastle Business School, replacing the traditional dissertation with a business consultancy project.

The project culminated with actionable recommendations linked to available budget and resources that would enable the gin company to grow its market presence and promote brand recognition.

Describing his experience at Northumbria’s business clinic, Neil said: “The students have been thorough in their market research and the detailed recommendations in their report offer us a solid base to work from in order to grow both our online and physical presence outside the region.”

Final year business student Emily Spink was part of the team that worked with Neil on the strategy for Northumberland Spirit Company.

She commented: “The practical experience I have gained has been invaluable. It was challenging taking on a real business project, we had to collaborate as a team to plan our approach and meet Neil’s brief within the agreed timescale.

“Working for Northumberland Spirit Company was a great opportunity for me to put business development theory into practice in an exciting and competitive market place. The skills and experience I’ve gained throughout the process will undoubtedly help me in future projects.”

The business clinic at Northumbria University is an education scheme that involves groups of business students forming a consultancy firm to provide free advice to clients. The service is available to all types of businesses and is thought to enhance student employability.

Nigel Coates, director of the business clinic at Northumbria said: “Northumberland Spirit Company is an ambitious small business that is passionate about the quality and heritage of its hand-crafted gins. They have a great story to tell and saw the benefit that engaging with our students could bring.

“Since 2013, the Business Clinic has seen over 1,200 students work with and advise more than 300 organisations in a wide range of sectors.”

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