A chance meeting at the St Leger in Doncaster has led to a new drinks brand which its Barnsley manufacturers hope will be a good bet.
VIP Pink and VIP Blue, named after the VIP day at the races where Tim Gibbins and Dave Jones met, are already for sale in 20 bars in Barnsley; with plans to roll out across Yorkshire and eventually the UK.
The flavoured alcoholic beverages are made using Scottish spring water and secret recipes created after 18 months of testing.
Dave Jones said: “It was trial and error getting the flavours right, but then we had to think of a name. We had been going around in circles and yet VIP was there all along, as it’s where Tim and I met.”
Dave, who has a background in sales, and Tim, who worked in the drinks industry, were joined by Paul Graham, who has experience in wholesale, transport and logistics, to form the company FAB Supplies Ltd. Already they have produced more than 100,000 bottles of VIP.
At its height the “ready to drink” industry in the UK was said to be worth more than £1bn, with millions of bottles sold every year. That number has declined, but Dave believes the time is right for a new product.
“What makes us stand out from the competition is the quality of VIP; that’s why the name is so apt. As well as being made with Highland spring water, we are using expensive alcohol and good quality ingredients,” said Dave.
“We also have the novelty that the flavours are probably not what you would expect, especially with VIP Pink which tastes like refreshing lemon. We want our drinks to be intriguing and we will be working on more colours and flavours in the future.”
FAB Supplies is being given business support by the Enterprising Barnsley programme, which is delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. The free support includes website design, photography, marketing and advice on suppliers.
Andy Arnold of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “These three directors complement each other with their skills and experience and so are a perfect combination to drive this company forward.
“We really believe they can make a success of the venture and create jobs, which is why we are helping them.”
Enterprising Barnsley, which offers a wide range of help to small and medium-sized businesses of all sizes with growth potential, is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
FAB Supplies, which has an office on Wakefield Road in Barnsley, supply direct to outlets, which keeps the cost down. The drinks are bottled in Scotland.
Dave said the plan was to produce one million bottles this year, rising to five million in year three. To cope with the expansion the company plans to take on at least three staff.
“It really is an exciting time now. It’s two years since Tim and I met at the St Leger and had a chance conversation about our jobs. After a few months we were joined by Paul with his experience and started trying to perfect the recipe. Now here we are taking the product out into the clubs and bars of Barnsley. And who knows where it could all lead,” said Dave.