Fever-Tree drinks boss makes £29m from shares sale

  • 26 July 2017
  • From the section Business

Fever-Tree founders Charles Rolls and Tim WarrillowImage copyright
Fever-Tree

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Fever-Tree founders Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow (right)

One of the founders of drinks firm Fever-Tree is toasting a cool £29m windfall after selling 1.5m shares.

Tim Warrillow, who co-founded the group with Charles Rolls in 2004, said he was responding to demand from big investors for shares in the firm.

The move reduces his stake to 5.4% and comes after Mr Rolls banked £73m through selling shares in May.

Shares in the firm, best known for its tonic water, have soared more than 1,000% since 2014.

This year alone shares in the group, which also sells mixers such as ginger beer and Sicilian lemonade, have risen by more than 50%.

Fever-Tree’s international sales have expanded rapidly, and more than 50% of its revenues now come from outside the UK.

The US, Spain and Belgium are key overseas markets.

Fever-Tree founders inspired by first meeting

Fever-Tree produced its first bottle of tonic water in 2005 and now sell a range of a dozen different flavours.

Mr Warrillow and Mr Rolls pair wanted to produce an upmarket tonic with no artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavourings.

The firm is named after the colloquial term for the cinchona tree which, from its bark, supplies quinine – a key ingredient in tonic water.

On Tuesday the company upgraded its profit forecast after strong sales. It saw “exceptional growth” in the UK of 113%.

Plant hunters

In 2003, Mr Warrillow – 28 at the time – was looking for a career change. He wanted to set up his own gin distillery.

And so he contacted Mr Rolls, a veteran of the gin industry, and 18 years his senior, for advice.

Mr Rolls, who had successfully built Plymouth Gin, agreed to meet for a coffee in central London.

Within an hour or two they became business partners. But instead of forming a new gin company, they resolved to set up a premium tonic water brand.

But while it took Mr Rolls and Mr Warrillow just a few hours to decide to go into business together, it then took them 18 months to find a recipe they were happy with.

As Mr Rolls had some money in the bank after selling his 25% share in Plymouth Gin, they were able to take their time.

Securing some outside investors, they were finally able to start selling bottles of Fever-Tree tonic water.

The company got what it says was its most important break when supermarket group Waitrose decided to start selling the product.

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