Cassis manufactured in the UK and a British version of Grappa made from used grape skins are two new examples of the resourcefulness of the UK’s food and drink manufacturers

Seeking to replicate long-established international classics is a growing trend among smaller entrepreneurial and start-up UK companies. From small acorns do great brands grow? The UK is famous for its luxury food and drink brands – from the great Scotch whisky names to Twinings teas to Tiptree jams, on account of their quality, reliability and transparency.

Our recently launched Epicure SEIS Fund is all about such entrepreneurs and our expert investment team has already gained a lot of experience in this area. The team works with a range of mentors, advisors and entrepreneurs and provides a total support programme starting before investment and carrying on for the first two to three years of the life of the business. Recent investments include charcuterie from Rutland, coconut water from Sri Lanka and a highly nutritious powder derived from dried berries which counts as one of your “five a day”.

The UK Food and Drink industry was worth £95 billion in 2015 and is forecast to grow at 3-4% despite the threat of Brexit. However, the UK government is leaving nothing to chance and last month launched a massive initiative to promote the export of UK Food & Drink products to new markets, spearheaded by Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Nine key export markets are being identified in the Government’s Export Action Plan 2016-2020 with Australia and New Zealand at the top of the list.

The Epicure SEIS Fund also has the backing of two huge corporations, Tesco’s and JC Decaux. Tesco’s “Backit” programme was set up to encourage small food and drink manufacturers to come up with new product concepts, with the prospect of a free trial on Tesco’s shelves as the prize for the successful ones. Similarly, JC Decaux’s Nurture programme was established to support young start-ups with advice and implementation on their advertising and marketing plans.

The Fund is being advised by the Startup Funding Club, who have extensive experience in the start-up world, currently managing 4 SEIS Funds and have invested over £10m in over 85 start-up and early stage SEIS across a range of industry sectors, 12 of which have been in the food, drink and hospitality sectors. The Startup Funding Club recently won the Lead Angel Syndicate of the Year award at the UK Business Angels Association Awards.

To celebrate, what about a 100% British kir royal made with British cassis and English sparkling wine from Chapeldown?

Martin Sherwood, Partner

Martin Sherwood has many years’ experience of small company fundraising and in particular, the tax-efficient investment market, specialising in the Hospitality & Leisure Sectors. Martin is currently chairman of the four British Country Inns companies and of Halcyon Hotels and Resorts plc, which is in joint venture with Luxury Family Hotels, which he helped launch 20 years ago. He was founder and head of Tax Efficient Solutions, first at Teather & Greenwood (1997-2004) and subsequently at Smith & Williamson (2004-2010), which he left to found Enterprise.

Martin has been closely involved in both Venture Capital Trusts and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) since their inception and is a founder director of the EIS Association, the official trade association of the EIS industry.

Martin works very closely with a wide range of Hospitality & Leisure entrepreneurs and has a significant network of investors and professional contacts as well as being a serial investor in his own right.

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