First mixer advantage
In under 15 years, Fever-Tree has developed from an idea to one of the UK's fastest-growing public companies and one that has defined a whole new market segment in the drinks industry - the premium mixer.
Founded by Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow, and hatched in sessions in the British Library researching 17th-century sources of quinine, Fever-Tree sells its tonics, ginger beers, lemonades, sodas and colas in 74 countries around the world: 406m bottles were sold in 2018.
Its main markets are currently the UK, US, Spain and Belgium. The company is growing fast in the fiercely competitive US market: a new bottling partner will commence bottling on the US west coast in 2020.
While most of its sales come from tonic water - after all, its initial success has come from brilliantly anticipating the revival of high-quality gin - it is now aiming to sell more mixers to go with “dark spirits” - i.e whisky, dark rum and cognac - which account for 60 per cent of global premium spirits sales.
But just what is “world class” in the aerated world of carbonated drinks?
It’s not just about scale, although it has overtaken Schweppes (owned by Coca-Cola) as Britain’s biggest selling mixer brand. Fever-Tree’s products regularly win awards and citations from the drinks trade and professional mixologists (such as “best new product” at the US Tales of the Cocktail drinks event.)
In terms of product quality, Fever-Tree consciously uses premium ingredients, with ostentatious emphasis on provenance: the quinine comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ginger root from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and India.
It’s also been a world class investment - to date. When its shares were floated on London’s AIM market in 2014 at a price of 134p, Fever-Tree's market capitalisation was £154.4m. This year, shares trade at over £3.40 and the market capitalisation is not far short of £4bn. There may come a point where it stops being a stock market darling but Fever-Tree has made a huge impact on a global market, on consumer expectations of quality, and on the simple pleasure of drinking a gin and tonic. Thank you, Charles and Tim.