Drinks company is toasting a successful year as sales grow

Ian Robinson, director of Harry Hotspur Holdings, the group of companies that includes Lindisfarne Winery, Alnwick Brewery and Alnwick Rum.
Ian Robinson, director of Harry Hotspur Holdings, the group of companies that includes Lindisfarne Winery, Alnwick Brewery and Alnwick Rum.

The challenge of being based on Holy Island and regularly cut off by tides hasn’t stopped a well-known Northumberland drinks producer from increasing sales by more than 20 per cent in the past year.

The Lindisfarne Mead range, and a rapidly-expanding number of additional products developed by the company, is selling strongly in a growing number of outlets from Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Edinburgh Castle to Fenwick’s in Newcastle and the Port of Tyne’s International Passenger Terminal with licensing now in place for the USA.

The company is part of the Harry Hotspur Holdings Group that includes Alnwick Brewery & Alnwick Rum Co, which have also enjoyed a successful year.

The group’s Taste of Northumbria shop in Alnwick, opened in 2015, is not only recording strong sales of its own products, but is also showcasing locally-sourced goods designed to promote the region. They range from food and drink, such as Hepple Gin, to work by local artists and craftsmen.

Recent investment at the Lindisfarne Winery has included a new bottling line which has increased production to 5,000 bottles per day.

New products from additional fruit wines to chocolates and substantial changes in areas from marketing to label designs have all helped to boost sales.

“Currently we are investing in improved warehouse facilities and stock control systems, a new laboratory and a kitchen to develop a fudge range and bring our biscuit and cake production in-house,” said director Ian Robinson.

“A new white rum is coming on stream at Alnwick Rum, following the success last year of our Golden Spiced Rum, and our Internet sales are growing.

“Last year was a good one for us and we see a lot of untapped potential in the Lindisfarne brand. We have a strong base to continue expansion in the UK and Europe and are delighted that we now have licensing in place for the USA market where there is considerable growth potential.

“We have new outlets across the region and in the south, including Windsor, Oxford and Newbury.”

The range now includes three meads and the number of fruit wines has grown from four to 11.

A Lindisfarne Cream Liqueur is selling well, Black Beer & Honey is produced using a stout and a rum made by Lindisfarne’s sister companies and North East-based chocolatier Davenport’s has developed an exclusive range of truffles using Lindisfarne drinks.

The group now employs 15 people on Holy Island and at Taste of Northumbria in Alnwick. It recently created three new full-time posts in production and administration and promoted Jodie Gunn Wilson to the role of group financial controller.

“We will continue to take our products to regional trade fairs during 2016 as so many visitors have recognised the name and enjoyed tasting the new products,” said Mr Robinson.

“We always have to face the challenge of being island-based and dealing with the tides, but we have a great team here and having the Alnwick shop now is a real benefit.”