About the company
Forged in Wakefield is a craft gin producer, which, as you might expect, is based in Wakefield!
The company produce small batch organic and vegan-certified gin, they have A London Dry gin they call “The Original” a Navy Strength gin aptly named “Yorkshire Strength” and six flavoured gins ranging from Sherbet Lemon to Passionfruit.
Set up by husband and wife team, Gary and Victoria Ford, Forged in Wakefield started trading in January 2019. The pair had dreamt of setting up the company for some years as they enjoyed producing home-made wines and beers. But to produce spirits they had to go through a complex process of securing licences and approval from HMRC, as well as pulling on savings and credit cards to fund the launch.
Gary admits the early days were tough. “It took around six months to gain all the licences required to run a distillery. It was a massive learning curve and we nearly gave up at one point.”
The business has plans to move into new premises later this year. Gary and Victoria both still work full-time; Gary as an I.T Architect and Victoria as a Nursing Sister at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
They currently sell online via their website and to farm shops, bars, restaurants and clubs.
Gary and Victoria turned to AD:VENTURE to help with scaling up the business. Their current set-up means they can only produce 90 or so bottles per batch. They have also been using ‘off-the-shelf’ bottles from a supplier in France and wanted to move manufacturing to Yorkshire and create a customised bottle.
Gary says: “The still we are using has a capacity of just 100 litres and is a major bottleneck to future growth. We desperately need a larger still to cope with demand, but also one that would serve as a visual centerpiece to our planned distillery and allow us to produce vodka and rum.”
They also successfully applied for a £25,000 growth grant through AD:VENTURE.
The grant means Gary and Victoria can purchase a much larger still, which can produce 300 litres of gin per batch. It can also be used for the production of vodka and rum, part of their expansion plans.
The advice they received about procurement has enabled them to source a bottle producer in Yorkshire, thus reducing their carbon footprint and helping the local economy. The customised bottle is currently being designed.
They are due to move into the prestigious Tileyard North, the new creative business centre being built at the former Rutland Mills next to the Hepworth in Wakefield later this year, where they plan to have a bar, run a gin school and offer tasting sessions.
The increased activity means they plan to take on at least five staff by the end of 2021 to help increase output, while keeping the focus on the same B2B model of supplying farm shops, bars, restaurants and clubs, and selling online. They are currently in negotiations to export to bars in Norway.
“AD:VENTURE were a great help. They took the business plan from a rudimentary document to something that can support real business growth. They helped nurture us through the supply chain selection process,” says Gary.
“They are happy to help in any way they can and are great at putting you in touch with other areas of local government that can help support growth.”
“The advisors helped us to assess our supplier selection process with a critical eye, for example advising us to get quotes from three different suppliers before deciding who to procure from and weighting those suppliers with key selection criteria. They educated us. They opened doorways and our eyes to other ways of doing things.
“There’s so much help available that our only regret is that there is only the two of us and we don’t have the time to take all the help that is out there,” says Gary.