The market for premium spirits is a growing one. The spirits market in the UK was valued at around £15 billion in 2021, with models projecting continued growth in the sector. Innovation drives that growth in no small part, focusing on quality and diversifying into low and zero-alcohol offerings.
Among the distilleries in Wales making their mark in the sector, enjoying growth and identifying new opportunities is Mallows Beverages, based in Coed Ely in Tonyerfail, Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Mallows have been supported through Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious, growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Here, Andy Mallows of Mallows Beverages shares the company's journey to date and explains the role of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme in its success.
Tell us about Mallows
The name might give it away, but this is a family business. My son, Rhys, and I run and own the company. We've been manufacturing, bottling and distributing alcoholic beverages for many years. In 2022, we decided to form our own business based in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in a purpose built facility built to European standards. We know the global market well, understand the sector's potential, and have deep expertise of this particular drinks category.
Our passion and enthusiasm for our products shine through in our business. Of course, we want to provide our customers with great drinks which prove excellent value. But that's not all we want to achieve. We want to be sustainable and care about this part of the world. So we're adopting lean and agile logistics to ensure we are putting the planet on par with profit. Our aim has always been to bring sustainable jobs to Wales and achieve global recognition for the products we produce.
We believe these are the ingredients required to make our business a success. We're growing, and we'll achieve a sales turnover of around £9 million this year. We now employ more than 30 people
We have many reasons to look forward to the future, but we're also enjoying the journey.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Something that stands out for us as a family and a business is when my son, Rhys, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the NHS and key workers in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. During the coronavirus pandemic, we repurposed our business to produce over one million bottles of hand sanitiser. We wanted to be a part of the effort to support the NHS through the pandemic. It was a difficult time for everybody, and we knew we had the resources to get involved and help.
I'm also proud of achieving BRCGS A grade accreditation at our first formal assessment. This accreditation was key to ensuring potential customers know we are a trusted brand producing quality drinks.
What challenges have you faced in business?
Our main challenge was designing and developing a manufacturing facility and procuring equipment, due to Brexit and lead times. We also had to develop our supply base, and we have been fortunate that our suppliers have supported us from the outset. We attribute so much of our success in overcoming our challenges to the support from the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme. We now have a site in the South Wales valleys which can produce alcoholic beverages and also soft drinks at high speed. We are proud of delivering our quality goods to markets across the globe from right here in the Rhondda.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
There are a few things I think we'd do differently. For a start, we would have appointed specialist staff and managers with the expertise we, as directors, do not possess. For example, there were areas around project management, manufacturing design and planning where we would have benefited from having more in-house expertise sooner.
We also would have undertaken more research before investing in critical equipment. We could have grown faster if we had sourced the right equipment from the outset.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
We've been a part of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme since March 2021 and officially started trading in May 2021. In addition to participating in several webinars and seminars, we've had coaching support around project management, branding of our premium products, digital marketing, social media, commercial property, HR policies and our manufacturing processes.
It's difficult to fully express how helpful this expertise is when starting a business, especially ours, which needed to operate at scale from the beginning. Rhys and I would recommend the Accelerated Growth Programme to anyone starting their business in South Wales. Our coach Howard is always available to us and has been a trusted partner to us as we have grown.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
- Have a clear business plan and strategy – these will give you a clear roadmap.
- Take advantage of external advice and guidance, and access as much support as you can from the experts.
- Develop strategic partnerships with key customers and suppliers early on your business journey.
- Recruit and train the best people, and foster a positive culture within the company.
To learn more about Mallows, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme
The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme is a pan-Wales programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.