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Barrels of success
25/12/2006 | Channel:
Barrel Booze Ltd specialises in marketing
alcohol for the independent sector
Luton based company, Barrel Booze, is a leading drinks specialist, and wholesaler of alcoholic drinks. Originally formed six years ago, the company has continually expanded its product range, and today boasts an impressive selection of premium wines and beers. The company recently launched its Luxus range of premium Belgian lagers, and plans to introduce an Indian lager to the market in September 2006.
"Barrel Booze has been trading since 2000, and originally started as a wholesale business that served local shops, clubs and pubs in the Luton area," explains Imran Younus, director of sales and marketing. "The business continually expanded over the following years, and in 2002 we decided that the potential growth of the company lay in the wholesale, and rewholesale sectors. The fact that we had already started supplying some cash and carry outlets and wholesalers around the country with branded drinks offered us an excellent opportunity to expand the company's business profile.
"Following this, we embarked upon a process of gaining our own brands of beers and wines," Imran continues. "We started with one wine, called Maitre D from France, and currently have around 50 wines, in different sizes and styles, and a range of high-quality, imported Belgian lagers. We supply our brands exclusively to customers in the independent sector and are members of the Nisa-Todays Group, Europe's largest independent buying consortium. We also support the My Shop is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign that seeks to highlight the role played by independent retailers in serving their communities in the face of the unchecked growth of multiple retailers. We supply our brands by way of a regional franchise through a number of independent wholesalers and distributors right across the UK who then sell them to independent retail shops."
Barrel Booze continuously focuses on increasing its product range, and as such plans to release a new Indian beer: "We intend on launching our new Indian beer, called Murree 1860, in September 2006," says Imran. "We have a very close tie with the Murree Brewery in Pakistan. It has an amazing heritage, and was originally established in 1860 to serve the British Raj in India. However, after independence came in 1947, the brewery found itself on the wrong side of the border in Muslim Pakistan. Its activities became highly regulated and extremely restricted; this included a complete export ban, meaning the beer is not available in the EU market.
"The Murree Brewery sent us their master brewer, with the beer recipe, to arrange a deal whereby we brew the beer under licence for the EU market," Imran continues. "We have a Belgian Brewery, called Leiffmans, producing the beer for us. They are an award-winning brewery, with many gold medals, and Belgium itself is currently known as one of the best brewing nations in Europe, with many popular beers, so I believe this will have a very positive effect on the final product. In a recent trade survey, consumers said that they are prepared to pay more for imported beers, as opposed to domestic options, particularly Belgian beer."
Together with this, the company recently launched a new brand of premium, authentic Belgian lagers: "Just before Christmas 2005 we launched a range of
lagers to cover every market sector," Imran explains. "We wanted to offer lagers ranging from the standard market through to the super strength sector. Our new range of lagers is sold under the brand name Luxus, and includes three varieties.
Luxus is a 4.2 per cent high quality imported lager and falls within the standard lager category. Luxus Premier Grande Cru is a 6.5 per cent premium strength lager which is similar in taste and cost to other premium lagers but has a higher alcohol content, and we also have a Super Quality Strong Luxus, which is 8.5 per cent."
Together with developments in its product range, the company is currently in the process of completely renovating its existing site in Luton: "We are presently on a three acre site, and the whole area is being refurbished as it is an old building, not
suitable for our current operations," says Imran. "Last year we purchased an old steel works building, and we are now looking at developing the land into a brand
new cash and carry, and a dedicated distribution centre to serve all of our local and national customers. Together with this, we are in the process of constructing a banqueting, wedding and reception hall on the site, which will be among the largest in the Southeast, with a capacity of around 1400.
"We have invested around £2 million on the project," Imran continues. "We are
anticipating that the function hall will be open, and ready for operations in
September 2006, and we have Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, attending the opening ceremony. We believe that this new project, combined with the continuous development of our alcohol range, will be a fantastic platform for us, from which to grow the business, and take it to the next level. Our turnover last year was £14 million, and we are currently in year three of a five-year plan, with a target turnover of £20 million.
However, when we started in 2002 our turnover was around £4 million so we are very optimistic of these targets." Despite these challenges, Imran is confident in Barrel Booze's future: "We offer independent retailers a unique selling point: high-quality brands that are competitively priced and exclusive to the independent sector. Further to this, the wine and beer brands we have introduced over the last
four years have met with varied degrees of success, but most importantly we have not had one single failure. In this respect, I believe that we have a very enviable track record in this industry.