Family have the bottle to take on drinks giants with a new product
IT is a David and Goliath story in the making. A family from Derbyshire are planning to take on the juice drink giants.
An office in Ockbrook and a small industrial unit are the starting points from which the Naylors are hoping to build a global brand.
After a year of development, market research, sourcing suppliers and the odd false start, Reviva juice is available in more than a dozen pubs in Derby and Nottingham.
The family's surveying business had taken a hit from the dip in the housing market and the scrapping of home information packs. And when they started to think up business ideas, they hit on juice drinks. The aim is to take some of Britvic's market share – a multinational business which sells 1.9 billion litres of juice drinks and pop each year.
Brothers Ben and Tim, with father Steve, believe that their product, with a higher proportion of fruit juice than its nearest rival, has the potential to do serious business.
It also differentiates itself from competitors by having no preservatives, added sugar or sweeteners.
There have already been setbacks that the family have overcome and it is impossible to fault their enthusiasm, drive and ambition.
The Naylors have also splashed out on waterproof labels for their bottles.
Ben says: "Two of our three drinks count as one of your five a day and we don't use any additives or sweeteners so it actually tastes like juice. We think they look and taste great and that there is a gap in the market for us.
"I wanted to do something that I was passionate about and we will make it work."
The surveying business is still operating but the Naylors have invested a six-figure sum to get their drink into production and into pubs.
Reviva is already being sold in Mr Grundy's, in Ashbourne Road, The Cross Keys, The White Swan and The Royal Oak, both in Ockbrook, The Shakespeare Inn, Shardlow, and The Malt Shovel, Spondon.
Naturally, the drink will have the same price point as its competitors and, because around half of tied pubs can buy their soft drinks wherever they like, the Naylors can approach tenants themselves to get the product out there.
However, this is merely phase one of the operation.
Because margins are quite tight, to make money, the Naylors need to get volume sales.
To drive volumes, they need to get into bed with big wholesalers and distributors and to do that they need to prove that Reviva can be successful at a local level.
"At the moment, our plant can produce 500 bottles per hour so the next stage for us is to move it up to 5,000 per hour," says Ben.
"We have to get the sales for banks and distributors to have confidence in us."
Prior to settling on getting into the drinks market, the family came up with a number of different ideas.
"Juice was the one that was the most exciting and the more we thought about it and the further along we got, the more interesting it became," says Ben.
One of the first ports of call was Derby marketing agency McConnells, which advised the company on their strategy.
"They suggested that we do a trade show to get some feedback from the industry and meet companies that would be able to help us," says Ben.
The Naylors linked up with Pershore College, in Worcestershire, to produce an initial batch of 2,000 bottles in time for the NEC Food and Drink Show in March.
"We had grape and grapefruit and we had another drink with banana," says Ben.
"People that we spoke to liked the brand and what we were trying to do. Some found the drinks too tart and that was backed up by the market research that we did in pubs so it was back to the drawing board with our flavours."
They teamed up with a juicing company to source the raw materials and lined up a bottling plant prepared to carry out small batches ahead of the launch.
The company came up with three different drinks under the Reviva brand – grape and grapefruit, orange and mango and dry apple and mango, named Lady in Red, Rising Sun and Purple Haze, respectively.
By mid 2012, things were moving along nicely and the family were looking to take Reviva to market in December. Television and bus shelter advertising was booked and there were Facebook and Twitter campaigns to coincide with some 60,000 bottles arriving at pubs in the run-up to Christmas. Then disaster struck.
"We were let down by a bottling firm at the 11th hour and so had 60,000 empty bottles sitting in a factory unit," said Mr Naylor.
"We had booked television advertising that was to reach millions of people in the East Midlands but could not get the juice into the pubs."
Bottling drinks on a small scale is not as easy as you might think. A large bottling plant will have the capacity to produce millions of units each hour. They would not be interested in small runs of 60,000.
Undeterred, the family decided to build their own plant.
Before becoming a surveyor, Ben was a carpenter by trade and brother Tim is an electrician so they had a lot of the skills needed to set up the operation.
Ben said: "We built a hygienic room within the factory, bought two pasteurisers, a gravity filler and a mixing tank. It took us a week to build the clean room, the mixing tank took us a long time to get us into the unit and we were working past midnight every night to get it ready for production."
Now that the kinks in the business plan are being worked out, the Naylors are looking to hit West Bridgeford, in Nottingham, to give them a foothold in the market.
"Our distributor is near there so it's easy for us to flood that area with Reviva, though we would have liked to have started bigger in Derby," says Ben.
West Bridgeford and Derby, it is hoped, will prove to be the stepping stones to national and international markets.
"We're talking to the guys from UK Trade and Investment because we want to get the product abroad," says Ben. "We're not looking to beat around the bush, we have big ambitions for this product and our company."