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Brother and sister Peter Jervis and Julia Jacksons’ parents have owned The Cider House in Quatt, Shropshire, since 1986.
Their parents became fampreneurs themselves over 30 years ago, when they bought the pub outright during the era of brewery sell-offs.
It has thrived ever since and given both Peter and Julia a great grounding in the alcohol and hospitality-related industries and of course the spirit(!) of fampreneurship.
Peter and his wife Tracey are also publicans, having owned The Green Dragon in Little Stretton since July 2011 while Julia had an active role in the mobile bar business until she started a family in 2006.
She and her husband Mark have now joined together with Peter and Tracey to set up The Special Cider Company, a veritable fampreneurship powerhouse.
During their time developing their own and their parents’ businesses, the four fampreneurs have carved out a new and exciting revenue stream – a cider with a unique flavour that’s proving so popular that it is set to secure shelf space in supermarkets up and down the country as well as the pubs, bars and restaurants nationwide.
“It all really began with the The Cider House and The Jervis mobile bar business .” MD Peter explains, “I was running the mobiles for dad and we were serving drinks at very high profile and high attendance events like Silverstone races and Elton John concerts. We wanted a product that gave us a differentiator and used our knowledge of cider to try out an old Bulmers recipe for special cider that’s sweeter on the palate and also has more punch than a typical draft cider. It was an instant hit and I am convinced a major factor in us securing repeat business.”
The special cider was originally produced by HP Bulmer but when Scottish and Newcastle took over production it was shelved. Thankfully a couple of cider makers transferred to Westons from Bulmers and their knowledge of the product meant that Westons Cider were able to fulfil the orders of the Pub and the established mobile bar business.
The unprecedented success of the cider at the events inspired Peter, Tracey, Julia and Mark to ask their parent’s permission to bottle the cider in order to reach a wider market and enable them to forge a new stand-alone business. The Special Cider Company was established, and officially launched this year.
The four fampreneurs took their very first delivery in January and are now busy going out and about selling to breweries, pubs, off licences, restaurants, delis, farm shops and wholesalers.
Julia, who heads up sales and marketing for the business says, “The use of 100% juice in the production process creates a unique flavour, one that’s the opposite of most ciders which are typically very dry.
As soon as people taste it they understand so even though the cider market itself is big business our marketing must attract those that don’t ordinarily drink cider too. For example it’s a great complementary drink for a good curry, so our marketing is hinged on how different the taste is.”
So together the team are busy on the road managing tasting days at food centres, farm shops and wine merchants.
And once it is tasted The Special Cider is almost unanimously very well received, comments like “it’s the champagne of ciders” are commonplace and one restauranteur ended a sales meeting with the fampreneurs by banging on their van window insisting everyone needed to taste the cider because it is so good and putting in a healthy order for her fine dining establishment too.
Mark, who handles the logistics for the company explains, “We outsource production to Westons, the specialist cider maker. They bottle it for us and we’ve found the interest in the retail and food and drink sectors has been incredible. It’s stocked in Tuffins Supermarket here in Shropshire, and a growing number of pubs countrywide. We’re on the verge of supplying a major London distributor, which I’m confident will be a real tipping point for the business.”
And it’s not just regular customers who love the special cider. The experts at Ludlow brewery organised a tasting for their staff and the Special Cider was awarded it eight out of ten or more in every category – an unprecedented high mark from a very discerning group.
“This was another boost for the business,” says Tracey who administers company accounts and is processing a growing number of orders. “As well as promoting the bottles we’re also looking at keg production for pubs and a bagging box for retail customers who’d like a larger quantity option. We’re really fortunate to be enjoying so much success so early on.”
The Special Cider Company is using social media to build even more buzz and has an increasingly active Facebook Page and gradually growing Twitter account. It’s still early days but The Special Cider Company has secured lots of new business and is nurturing a genuine fan base along with some great media coverage – all of which they’re promoting through social media.
Right now the team are busy fulfilling the orders and securing new business too. Looking to the future though there are plans for some Special Cider product variants.
“We’ve got some limited-edition flavours in the pipeline,” Peter says, “Later in the year we’ll be producing Special Cider infused with Caribbean syrups. Cider is a popular drink in the summer so we’ll be selling these to our customers and running additional promotions at the events we’ll be attending like the Navy days in Plymouth, Steam Rallies in Shropshire and various rock and pop concerts.”
If the first couple of months is anything to go by The Special Cider company is destined for great things. Have a look for it next time you’re at your local, and even if cider is not your usual tipple give it a try….
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