Franklin & Sons founder, Steve Perez, has seen sales increase by 1,000 per cent since 2015
The founder of Franklin & Sons (F&S) has seen sales of its premium tonics, artisanal mixers and drinks increase over 1000 per cent since it launched in autumn 2015, delivering a £2 million plus turnover.
Intense natural flavours and intriguing ingredient combinations such dandelion, burdock and star anise or brewed ginger beer and malted barley with lemon twist have won over customers.
“These are people who are already part of the craft spirits rejuvenation or want to sip a superior, grown-up soft drink, perhaps because they have to drive or are looking for a home treat,” says Perez.
A former chef, which does much to explain his total focus on taste, he is also chairman of the fast growing independent beers and spirits drinks business Global Brands Ltd, that he founded in the late 1990s.
Franklin & Sons is the latest addition to the group, bringing a new lifestyle dimension to the portfolio with an emphasis on home ingredients from English strawberries and sugar beet to Scottish raspberries, pure Staffordshire water and Yorkshire rhubarb.
Bold flavour combinations have help to company to a £2m plus turnover as they win over new customers
Based on Global Brands’ new manufacturing site with an innovation lab in Chesterfield, F&S now sells in 36 countries from the Seychelles to Columbia by way of Northern Ireland and distributes to 3,000 shops, hotels and bars in the UK.
Taste like other senses can transport you back in to the past
It sits in a growing sector in the UK with the tonic and mixers market now worth £305 million a year with the bar or ‘on trade’ growing by 11 per cent annually, and the retail up five per cent.
The bald facts of Franklin & Sons development show it took two years and £1 million of funding from the group.
But it has been far more than that for Perez who, prompted by his interest in old brands and recipes, found himself on journey discovering flavours and nuggets of popular cultural history that were just on the brink of being lost to living memory.
Franklins originally was a Victorian sweet shop family business in Rickmansworth
Franklins originally was a Victorian sweet shop family business in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire that grew into a maker of drinks with iconic flavours such as cherryade, lime crush and cream soda.
Eventually it folded in the late 1980s, and became a name gathering dust until Perez came across it.
Immediately realising the potential, how many of its elements could resonate with contemporary drinkers and how it could be a versatile source of mixers for commercial and retail markets, he set about resurrecting it with products fit for 21st century tastes.
The brand focuses on British ingredients as well as flavour
“We did a lot of research and found local people in Rickmansworth who still remembered the company and the flavours of the drinks,” he says.
“Taste like other senses can transport you back in to the past and these are things people now value more than ever.
“In the old days there was far more recycling. Franklins’ had returnable bottles, stoneware and soda siphons. We found them in boot fairs and vintage sales and have taken inspiration from those designs as well as exploring the ingredients in the original recipes to create drinks like our Sloe Gin with Sicilian Lemon.
“The heritage aspect of the brand is very powerful for customers everywhere. Vintage UK is especially popular in Japan.
“Now the trend for authenticity, craft and quality service seems here to stay and are all part of a piece. Our brand is well positioned to tap into all of this.
“This is a market of discerning consumers which is why we took the time to explore it thoroughly before we launched and the success shows this was the right strategy.”
But the business is not about growth at any cost, he adds. “Our target for the first three years is to reach premium outlets, starting with trade influencers then a focus on farm shops and quality cafes, then the export market and prestige trade such Harrods and Selfridges.
Steve Perez’s book has is an intriguing blend of local produce and Spanish culinary expertise
“But our move into Sainbury’s probably sends one of the strongest signals about our progress.
“What Franklin & Sons has allowed Global Brands to do is work with a range of customers it did not previously have as a late night business.”
The strategy going forward will have two key planks, partnerships with leading spirit brands and education with masterclasses and tastings both live and on social media.
“Franklin & Sons is an experience worth sharing,” says Perez, “that’s our message as we aim to become an alternative market leader.”