Warner’s, a founder-led alcoholic and non-alcoholic spirits business, has secured a £1.5million investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by The FSE Group Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme, to fund its international expansion, marketing objectives, production and tourism capacity.
Warner’s is an award-winning distillery based on a family farm in Northamptonshire. The company’s natural spirits are crafted using water from a spring with home-grown botanicals. The largest independent craft gin distillery in the UK, Warner’s 200-year-old site also acts as a visitor attraction with 10 acres of botanical gardens, distillery buildings, tastings, and tours.
Tina Warner-Keogh, co-founder and co-CEO, said: “We’ve been leading the way with naturally flavoured full strength gins since the gin renaissance of the mid 2010s and were the first craft distillery to launch a range of natural non-alcoholic spirits, which is now one of the fastest growing areas of the business.
“We’ve developed a strong brand around quality and provenance and have secured the funding and resources required to meet growing demand. The MEIF expansion capital means we can continue delivering growth and build on the platform created to date. We’re grateful to FSE for their backing, enabling us to double bottling capacity and work towards our ambition to triple sales to £25+million over the next five years.”
A sustainable operation that puts nature at the heart of the business, Warner’s is a certified B Corp and commits a portion of business revenues to deliver green action. It has established a world first Warner’s Nature Marque initiative, which is encouraging biodiversity in pub gardens across the UK. Its Trash & Treasure botanical series is produced using ‘unwanted’ ingredients and food wastes such as dandelion roots, over-ripe bananas and discarded citrus peels.
Ann Marie McFadyen, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “Warner’s has proven high demand for its award-winning products, which has in the past been met with temporary recruitment and short-term solutions. Its experienced and capable management team is now looking to establish an operation and employee base that is fit for future growth as they scale the business, and we are delighted to be supporting them to achieve this.”
The global gin market is estimated to be worth £9.3billion with the UK accounting for £2.2billion. Recent data suggests that 72% of consumers think about sustainability credentials when choosing food and drink with 40% willing to pay more for items that are sustainably sourced. Warner’s approach is aligned to this changing consumer behaviour, where their focus on sustainability and natural ingredients differentiates them from competitors and places them in a strong position to exploit this still-growing market.
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at British Business Bank added: "MEIF continues to support SMEs that prioritise sustainability and eco-friendly approaches to business and Warner’s Distillery fits this description perfectly as a B Corp. The MEIF supports sustainable growth for the region and this investment will support the company’s international expansion from its Midlands base.”
Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive of SEMLEP said: “Success with Warner’s international expansion plans will be a major win for the UK drinks industry. The food and drink sector in the South East Midlands region alone exported around £313 million in 2021 and it has the potential for significant growth. With a diverse range of food and drink businesses, this region is home to innovators in the sector supported by an expansive sector ecosystem in which Warner’s is a leading business and brand. We’re delighted to see investment in Warner’s and hope to see much future success.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2022 and the European Investment Bank. The FSE Group manages a section of MEIF that provides investments between £100,000 and £1.5 million to support growing SMEs across the region. For more information visit: www.thefsegroup.com/fund/midlands-engine-investment-fund-debt-finance.