Gin company forges ahead with growth grant

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A husband and wife team who run a craft gin company in Wakefield are gearing up for expansion after being given a growth grant.

Gary and Victoria Ford, who run “Forged in Wakefield”, have been given £25,000 to help them move in to bigger premises to meet demand.

The pair have plans to relocate to Tileyard North, a new creative business centre being built at the former Rutland Mills next to the Hepworth.

The move means they can fit in a new 300-litre still, offer distillery tours, run a gin school and a bar.

The company has been given the grant by AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire.

Gary Ford said: “Vicky and I had no idea what was involved in running a small business when we started. We have learnt along the way and made a lot of mistakes in the process.

“At the moment we distil the gin, act as the salesforce, maintain the website, develop new flavours and a million other things.

“Moving into the premises will mean we can employ staff and take the business to the next phase of its development.”

The company, which has also been given business advice by AD:VENTURE – which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF – was launched in January 2019 by the pair who loved brewing beer and wine, and wanted to move into distilling spirits.

Gary added: “We are planning to take on at least five staff before the end of 2021 to help cope with demand and to work in the bar.”

The small batch gin, which is produced in eight flavours, including The Original, Yorkshire Strength, Passionfruit and Lemon Sherbet, is certified organic and vegan.

The current still can produce around 90 bottles of gin in eight hours, but the new premises will mean the business can invest in a new still which can produce three times as much, and can make other products, such as vodka and rum.

The Fords are moving bottle production from France to Yorkshire to reduce their carbon footprint, and are having a custom-designed bottle developed. They are also currently negotiating to export to Norway.

Gary said: “Having the help and support from the team at AD:VENTURE  really makes a difference.

“The investment has been fantastic as it helps us to increase our capacity and produce our custom bottle, but the team at AD:VENTURE  went above and beyond this, spending lots of time coaching us and offering business support and guidance.”

Councillor Darren Byford, cabinet member for economic growth, regeneration and property at Wakefield Council, said: “Forged in Wakefield is exactly what it says, a great company and product forged in our district which is full of amazing creative people doing amazing things.

“Giving support to early stage businesses through the AD:VENTURE programme really pays off in the long run, as it helps these businesses to thrive and create jobs and greater economic prosperity for us all.”

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