It’s almost two years to the day since we started importing Manly Spirits Co. from their beautiful home in the picturesque Northern Beaches of Sydney. Today, we’re happy to share very exciting news: we’ve achieved a national listing in all John Lewis UK stores, for four Manly Spirits’ products.
John Lewis will be stocking Manly Spirits’ contemporary Australian Dry Gin, the dry, fruity and low sugar Lilly Pilly Pink Gin, their Zesty Limoncello and the sassy Blackfin Coffee Liqueur, from 1st March 2021.
Our co-founder, Phil, discovered Manly Spirits whilst visiting family members in Sydney. He immediately fell in love with their marine inspired packaging and delicious liquids, all with cleverly balanced maritime elements running through them. At the time, Manly Spirits was one of the upcoming regional distilleries in New South Wales. We had high hopes for the brand in the UK.
Vanessa and David Whittaker, the husband and wife team behind the brand, were cautiously optimistic at first. They joked with us that selling gin to us Brits was “like selling ice to the eskimos”! Why would we need any more gins? But soon they went on to win awards like ‘Best London Dry Gin in Australia’ and Double Gold Medals from the San Francisco International Spirits Competition. That confirmed we’d found a special brand that could succeed in the UK market.
How we’ve worked with Manly Spirits
We launched Manly Spirits on Australia Day in January 2019 with events up and down the country and an exclusive partnership with Spirits Kiosk (previously Gin Kiosk). In September 2019 Manly Spirits Australian Dry Gin was crowned Champion of the ‘Gin Kiosk Cup’, outselling 64 other gins over the summer. Not bad for a gin new to the market?
The highlight for 2019 was securing Manly as the Gin of The Month for August in the UK’s biggest gin subscription club; The Craft Gin Club. 40,000 consumers received a bottle of the Australian Dry Gin and voted it 9/10 for flavour as well awarding it the highest total score for branding over 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Throughout 2019 we worked on growing visibility for the brand by attending a series of in person consumer events like Junipalooza, Gin Festivals and Gin & Jazz. Our sales team also ran activations like ‘The Gin Ashes’ with Atlas Bar in Manchester and takeovers with The Pickled Olive in Liverpool and Vesper in Leeds.
We also put a lot of energy into growing the brand’s awareness digitally. We created Manly Spirits’ dedicated UK Instagram page on day one of representing them. We used this to increase awareness, give the brand a voice in the UK market and nurture a community of Manly Spirits enthusiasts. This account now has over 12.2k loyal followers, over 9000 monthly engagements and a monthly follower growth rate of 10%.
We first approached John Lewis with Manly Spirits’ products in December 2019. We knew from the brand’s success in off trade in their home market that the bottle’s ‘shelf appeal’ really helps the bottles stand out from the competition. We weren’t successful in achieving a listing in 2020 but we continued to work hard to gain retail listings to grow the awareness and demonstrate sales for Manly Spirits.
In 2020 Coastal Citrus Gin went into 14 Laithwaites Wine stores (and online) plus we launched Lilly Pilly Pink Gin with Harvey Nichols. During COVID-19 we pushed into more online retailers such as The Bottle Club, Gin Warehouse, Gin & Jones, Tipples & Co and Spirits Specialist. We have also held various virtual online masterclasses where attendees enjoyed gin tastings from David the founder.
This hard work clearly paid off, not only helping the brand perform well throughout COVID-19 but then securing the listing for four facings across all John Lewis UK stores in early 2021.
On hearing the news of the successful listing, Vanessa Whittaker from Manly Spirits Co. said:
“We are absolutely delighted with bbb’s achievement of getting our brand into such well loved and iconic stores. With the product performing so well in the off-trade in our home market, we can’t wait to see this success replicated in the incredibly competitive UK market. We’ll be on a plane over to celebrate soon!”
Looking to buy Manly Spirits gins or liqueurs? You can buy a bottle or two (or several) online on the John Lewis web shop and in-store when non-essential shops reopen. The beautiful bespoke bottles also make a great gift if you’re looking for something for Mother’s Day.