A chance meeting at the St Leger in Doncaster has led to a new drinks brand which its Barnsley manufacturers hope will be a good bet.
VIP Pink and VIP Blue, named after the VIP day at Town Moor where Tim Gibbins and Dave Jones met, have already gone on sale at 20 bars in Barnsley, with plans to roll out across Yorkshire and eventually the UK.
The flavoured alcoholic beverages are made using Scottish spring water and secret recipes created after 18 months of testing.
Dave said: “It was trial and error getting the flavours right, but then we had to think of a name.
“We had been going around in circles and yet VIP was there all along, as it’s where Tim and I met.”
Dave, who has a background in sales, and Tim, who worked in the drinks industry, were joined by Paul Graham, who has experience in wholesale, transport and logistics, to form the company FAB Supplies Ltd.
Already they have produced more than 100,000 bottles of VIP.
At its height the ‘ready to drink’ industry in the UK was said to be worth more than £1 billion, with millions of bottles sold every year. That number has declined, but Dave believes the time is right for a new product.
“What makes us stand out from the competition is the quality of VIP - that’s why the name is so apt. As well as being made with Highland spring water, we are using expensive alcohol and good quality ingredients,” he said.
“We also have the novelty that the flavours are probably not what you would expect, especially with VIP Pink which tastes like refreshing lemon.
“We want our drinks to be intriguing and we will be working on more colours and flavours.”
FAB Supplies, which has an office on Wakefield Road, Barnsley, supplies direct to outlets which keeps costs down. The drinks are bottled in Scotland.
Dave said: “The plan was to produce one million bottles this year, rising to five million in year three.
“It really is an exciting time. It’s two years since Tim and I met at the St Leger and had a chance conversation. After a few months we were joined by Paul and started trying to perfect the recipe. Who knows where it could all lead?”
Alcopops have taken the British market by storm
Alcopops first came to prominence in Britain during the late 1980s and early ’90s and have been blamed by some for an increase in binge drinking.
Products such as Hooper’s Hooch, an alcoholic lemonade, and Castaway, a tropical drink, paved the way for drinks such as Bacardi Breezer and WKD, which have taken the UK beverages market by storm.
Some have expressed concern that such drinks might appeal to children as they tend to be sweet and brightly coloured. Many alcopop advertising campaigns have been criticised as trying to make alcopops appeal to young drinkers.
But the sector is one of the biggest in the British market, worth millions.