It wasn’t easy for startup founders Rik Roberts and Tony Watson to find the finest quality, 100 per cent apple French “cidre”, but after many months scouring the Normandy countryside, they finally struck gold.
The entrepreneurial pair of former food and drink sector executives only launched their brand – 6Somewhere – last summer, yet their range benefits from 125 years of authentic French cidre-making knowledge and expertise.
Roberts and Watson’s startup has amassed a £250,000 turnover already, and 2017 will see supermarket giant Tesco stocking two 6Somewhere cidres throughout 500 UK stores, with a bigger listing likely to follow.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
We’re Rik Roberts and Tony Watson – the founders of 6Somewhere. We import our own branded premium Normandy “cidre”. We named the company 6Somewhere simply because it’s always six o’clock somewhere!
Rik previously worked at PepsiCo and Red Bull, amongst other companies, and has been in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) for over 20 years. Tony, on the other hand, worked for Carlsberg for most of his career, ending up with the title of vice president, national accounts.
(2) How long have you been around for?
We launched the business last summer, so not even a year yet.
(3) How do you make money?
Hopefully, by giving consumers what they are looking for. A brilliant tasting cidre, made from 100 per cent apples, with no added sugar or other nasties. Importantly, we’re not made from apple concentrate. We are looking to sell to retailers in the UK to start with, before we think about expanding overseas.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
There aren’t many French cidre brands in the UK at the moment, and even fewer that sell 750ml bottles and have a champagne cork as a closure.
As previously mentioned, we are made from 100 per cent apples, demonstrating a level of quality that is surprisingly rare amongst cider brands. Did you know, for example, that by law in the UK, to be labelled a cider you only need to have 35 per cent apple or apple concentrate in it? As a result, we have no added sugar, colourings or flavourings, and we’re gluten free.
We have over 125 years of cidre-making heritage behind us, we’re not old fashioned. We have the experience which delivers the quality, but we have a brand which we hope will appeal to those who are youthful in their approach to life.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
Finding the best-tasting apple cidre in France key!
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
We’ve just agreed distribution in almost 500 Tesco stores – literally this week – so from a financial perspective that’s huge.
Personally, I think there have been so many, due to the amount we have had to learn over the past year. As an example, I think the branding and advertising we’ve done look unique in the UK.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Perhaps obviously, Brexit has not helped us from a foreign exchange perspective – and this has hit our profitability.
There is a lot of red tape you need to wade through to sell alcohol in the UK – which of course is the right thing to do – but there have been times when we thought we had done everything we needed but there was something more we needed to do, then another thing.
Another setback was the labelling, which didn’t go as expected during first production. They needed to be redone, which was expensive, and far from ideal.
We have also spent more cash than we had planned to, as there is always another necessity for the business. The good thing though is that it makes you really focus on what is and isn’t necessary – as otherwise you can burn through a lot of cash quite quickly.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
Still doing what we’re doing I hope. We have a number of idea’s to develop the business that we think will have legs.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Don’t give up. If you have a good idea, and a brilliant product, then persist. But, get your friends to give their honest opinion about ways to improve.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
Music industry mogul Alan McGee had an unparalleled ability to spot talent and trends, while Chris Gardner, the stockbroker who wrote the memoir The Pursuit of Happyness, was a salesman who believed in building strong relationships.
Meet Jenk Oz, Britain’s youngest CEO, aged 11.
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