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Published: 05 February 2016

Surrey graduate and founder of Brockmans Gin Bob Fowkes was the guest speaker at our recent MBA Business Breakfast

Bob completed his MBA at Surrey in 2007, and a year later launched Brockmans Gin, one of the fastest growing super-premium spirits brand in the world.

An innovator and brand developer, Bob has worked with many major food and drink companies such as Diageo, Allied Domecq, Pernod Ricard, Danone and Nestle. His experience and the confidence gained during his MBA were the catalyst for turning an idea into a successful independent brand.

Bob believed there was an untapped market in the world of gin – 20 to 30-year-olds – and invested seed capital to develop the brand through consumer workshops targeted at this age group. His vision of a gin ‘Like No Other’ was created through this important market research and Brockmans was born.

As an independent new brand in the market he harnessed the ‘power of digital’ to promote his product, talking to potential consumers directly through various social media platforms. This enabled him to create a competitive edge over larger established competitors

In 2010, Brockmans Gin was launched across Spain, Germany and Switzerland and Bob then turned his eyes to breaking into the US market. Seeing it was dominated by large competitors, he set up his own supply structure. He recruited brand ambassadors who spent 100% of their time on the brand and it worked – in 2014 Brockmans launched in USA. Other markets such as Australia, Norway, Denmark and Austria followed in 2015.

Brockmans Gin grew by 300% in the UK last year and 60% overall and Bob is looking to continue this growth pattern over the next five years.

So how do you build an idea into a successful independent brand?

  • Ruthless focus: build the brand in relevant key markets
  • Do things you understand: build on your strengths
  • Go premium with new ventures:  it’s more rewarding in terms of margin and consumer space
  • Embrace the power of digital: it can lead to success in a short space of time 
  • Be on top of cash flow, daily, weekly, monthly

On being asked what he found most useful from his MBA, Bob said: “Thanks to the MBA I gained the confidence to be a generalist, dealing with issues beyond my background in marketing such as legal, trademarks, insurance, financial processes and projections. Further the study of operations helped me immensely in managing the development of the brand and subsequent logistics planning and implementation.”

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