LuxuryShakes

luxuryshakes

West Berkshire-based Luxuryshakes set to shake-up drinks market with indulgent milkshake range

Two former work colleagues have turned their business idea into a reality after an inspirational ten-year journey to bring their premium milkshakes to the masses

Moo-ve over ice-creams and smoothies, ‘grown-up’ milkshakes are set to be the must have product this year thanks to the dream of budding entrepreneur Andrew Sherick and his business partner Lisa Hunjan. Supported by the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub, West Berkshire-based Luxuryshakes is all set to shake-up the dairy drinks market with its range of luxurious milkshakes.

Aimed primarily at adults, their indulgent drinks are made from locally-sourced British milk and cream, and have added inclusions such as Belgian chocolate chips, soft cookie and strawberry pieces making them stand out from the rest. Made with no artificial colours, additives or preservatives, the milkshakes offer the taste and quality of the freshly made versions you’d enjoy in a deli, but with the convenience and shelf life of a bottled retail product. This is due in part not only to its inclusions, but also to its innovative manufacturing process and their passion for milkshake perfection.

Lisa Hunjan, Head of Sales & Marketing at Luxuryshakes, explains: “We see ourselves as the GU or Hotel Chocolat of the milkshake market. In the milkshake sector, there is currently no premium equivalent. Milkshakes are predominately aimed at the younger demographic with the focus on value, and the use of lower-grade ingredients. However, our range offers the luxury of flavours such as Pot au Choc made using melted Belgian chocolate and tiny chocolate chips, and our Cookies and Cream made with tiny pieces of soft cookie crumb.”

Andrew Sherick, founder of Luxuryshakes, developed the idea out of his life-long passion for milkshakes and spotted a gap in the market for an off-the-shelf variety of the kind he’d enjoyed freshly made in delis and restaurants. With over 25 years of experience as a food buyer for a leading high street retailer, Andrew had the extensive industry knowledge and contacts to get his idea started. With his employer supportive of his dream, he set about working on recipes and flavours over the next four years.

In 2013, he left his full-time job to launch his range of milkshakes in a renowned premium foodhall and then a leading high street retailer under the brand, Mr Sherick’s Shakes. An order with another high street retailer quickly followed, this time sold under the retailer’s own brand label. As more retailers came on board, the business needed to move from its original artisan factory to a larger manufacturing site to handle the increased volumes.

“We had our products in over 1,060 stores nationwide, across three of the six major supermarket chains and independent high-end foodhalls. We were due to launch with two further supermarkets at the end of 2017, with a roll out to a further 700 stores. These contracts would have given us a £2.4m turnover, but disappointingly our new manufacturing partner then let us down. They left us in an unsustainable financial position and we had to take the heart-breaking decision to cease production.”

The story could have easily ended here, but the determined duo didn’t give up. Lisa explains: “Passion and demand for our products remained strong. We knew we had a great product and our retail customers were supportive and understood our situation, so told us to come back to them when ready again. We didn’t give up and Luxuryshakes was born in 2017. This time, however, we decided to purchase our own factory site to give us full autonomy over how our product is made.

“In fact, with our own factory, we can offer our old customers an even more attractive product proposal than before. We will have greater opportunity to create bespoke flavours for different customers, opportunity for product development, full control over costs and greater flexibility on distribution. Most importantly, we will have innovative manufacturing equipment, which will give our products a longer shelf life without the need for preservatives, and our bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastics, with all packaging being recyclable – so important to both our retailer customers and consumers.”

Finding a suitable freehold factory site and securing finance was a challenge. Andrew used his own money to purchase the factory, which is based in Membury. However, the business still needed to secure investment to refit and change it from a plastic lid factory into a high care BRC grade food and drink manufacturing site. This is when they turned to the Berkshire Business Growth Hub for advice and applied for the High Growth Programme, which provides 12 hours of free, tailored business support.

Lisa explains: “The Berkshire Growth Hub is a significant lifeline for businesses. We found the business support and financial landscape confusing, but the Growth Hub made it easy to access the information we needed and put us in touch with a network of investors, which has given us valuable leads and new opportunities.

“We knew a lot from our previous business but weren’t specialists in finance, so it was a real benefit to be able to tap into their expertise. They were able to advise us on our business plan, what we were offering investors, our pitches and how we present ourselves. Our adviser also introduced us to the right people at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to help us apply for and receive a £170,000 rural development grant towards the re-fit of the new manufacturing site in Membury. We have now successfully secured all the funding we needed from private investors and are now looking forward to what the future holds.”

In addition to the advice on finance and funding, the Berkshire Business Growth Hub also put the team at Luxuryshakes in contact with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme at Reading University to help with the research and testing of the initial shelf-life of their products. This was able to provide them with additional resource and save them valuable time.

“Andrew first had the idea for the business back in 2009, so it has been a long and challenging journey. We wish we’d have known about the Berkshire Growth Hub when we first started. Working with them really feels like someone is on your side. They took the time to understand our business and the challenges we faced. They kept us motivated and ensured we didn’t give up. They even arranged skype meetings for us if we were unable to meet our adviser face-to-face. The service was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble, and everything was tailored to our needs!”

The future is certainly looking bright for Luxuryshakes, which plans to launch a selection of its wonderful flavours early this year, including Pot au Choc, Cookies and Cream, Strawberries and Cream, and A Hint of Mint. Bespoke flavours and seasonal limited editions are planned to follow.

In fact, the company’s future is looking decidedly green. In addition to creating local jobs, the business is keen for its new manufacturing home in Membury to be as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, their bottles being made from 100% recycled plastics and all packaging being recyclable, the milk and cream will be sourced from local British farms, distribution will be consolidated to minimise carbon footprint and they plan to harvest rainwater through the roof of the factory. The use of electrical pulse technology in the manufacturing process will also save on energy consumption.

Luxuryshakes is one of a number of local businesses being supported by the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub, which offers fully funded, impartial support services and expert advice to start-ups and established businesses in Berkshire. The service includes free clinics and masterclasses on a range of business issues, alongside a special High Growth programme to provide tailored support to SMEs with high growth potential.

Delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, the service is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

For further details on the Berkshire Business Growth Hub’s range of fully funded support services, including its High Growth Programme, click here or email info@berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk.

For more information on Luxuryshakes, contact Lisa Hunjan via lisa@luxuryshakes.co.uk

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