Leeds-based Boost Drinks, the sports and energy drink brand, has forged an unusual path.
The 16-year-old business has disregarded deals with supermarkets in favour of partnerships with corner shops and petrol stations. “The convenience sector has often been dismissed as the poor cousin of the grocers, but we’re proving they’re not,” says founder Simon Gray.
This innovative strategy has seen the business hit £30m in turnover, with 150 million drinks sold each year. Boost currently exports to various territories all over the world. “Around 92pc of our business is still in the UK but we’re starting to look seriously at exports,” says Gray.
Boost has already proven a huge hit in Northern Ireland, where it is the number one soft drinks brand. The company, which generated 10pc revenue growth in 2016, is expecting the same this year.
Boost, which is a sales and marketing outfit, works with its partner drinks manufacturer to create cost-effective sports and energy drinks.
Gray started the business while he was still at university, and couldn’t find an affordable alternative to Red Bull. Having established a foothold in energy and sports drinks, Boost has now moved into a new niche. “We’re moving with the wider health agenda, and have created a range of protein drinks,” he says.
The name Boost has always been one of the company’s best assets, according to Gray.
“Everyone says, ‘I need a boost’,” he claims. “When you’re up against global corporate powerhouses, it’s very useful when the consumer knows what your drink does as soon as they see it on the shelf.”
There are a few challenges coming down the pipe, however. “The sugar tax will be interesting,” says Gray. “And Brexit has already thrown up a few challenges in terms of input costs because our manufacturers source a lot of products from overseas. But that’s a short term pain, and gives us opportunities to export.”
The 44-year-old, who has grown Boost organically since inception, believes that food and drink will always be a resilient sector because consumers need to eat and drink, and want products right now. “Could we be a £50m revenue business in three to five years?” asks Gray. “I think so, if we do everything right.”