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Former Bibendum head of spirits launches new distribution business

Published:  22 April, 2015

The former head of Bibendum's beer and spirits division is launching his own spirits distribution business in May.

The former head of Bibendum's niche beer and spirits division is launching his own spirits distribution business in May.

Nick Rodgers, who left Bibendum in December following its merger with PLB, has set up Identity Drinks Brands Ltd. Rodgers joined Bibendum in 2006, and rose to be head of spirits before heading up its new craft beer and spirits division, Instil Drinks Co, in 2013.

Identity Drinks Brands will represent the UK distribution of Green Box's drinks portfolio, Element 29 vodka and Boxer gin, which are made at the Langley distillery in a small copper pot still. Green Box's founder Mark Hill will continue to run the firm's export side as well as his hotel business.

Hill said Rodgers industry experience made him an ideal partner to bring the fast-growing Boxer Gin & Element 29 Vodka brands to a wider audience.

"For six months I had been weighing up the pros and cons of building our own in-house sales team versus moving our brands to a distributor - when I met Nick and he explained his plans, my decision was easy," he said. 

Green Box, which was set up two years ago and now sells around 6-7k 9L bottles a year, had only "scratched the surface", Rodgers said, adding that it had the potential to grow to 10k 9L bottles in the next few years. He noted that the brand's format - durable bottles that can be refilled from a proprietary bag-in-box system - gave it a unique entreé into new markets, including high-turnover leisure and hospitality venues and cruise ships.

However Identity will concentrate on supplying the on-trade, catering for mid-end to luxury bars and restaurants, and Rodgers had plans to add other drinks categories to the portfolio in due course. "I am in discussion with a few people as we want to go quite big quite quickly," he told "We are targeting customers in the mid to luxury end in the on and off-trade, with categories spanning high quality tequilas, rums and whiskies."

It is also looking to add sparkling wine brands and Champagnes to the portfolio.

"We want to make sure our customer base is tight so we can talk to bartenders," he said.